If you like ambiguity, you’ll love my answer to the question, does your startup need a PR agency?
Ready for it?
Here it is:
I don’t know.
Really, I can’t say for certain what is right for you. I can and will tell you what my experience has been, and I will make a recommendation, but you have to decide for yourself.
It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you
I just started listening to it, but so far, the book’s message is pretty simple, yet important: you gotta get your message out there.
And you also need to know what differentiates you from the competition. And that differentiation needs to matter to people-so they will pay you for it.
You can hustle and get PR hits on your own
You can absolutely get exposure on your own. As the CEO of your biz, no one will be able to speak more credibly and passionately about what you do.
Here’s a slide from a deck I’m working on to find a sponsor for a campaign to fight homesickness in college freshmen:
Those are all major PR hits my business scored. And they were ALL accomplished by my hustle. No silver bullet, just straight hustle, and luck.
You can also use online tools like Just Reach Out to find journalists writing about certain topics. I actually used it and it works. It takes hustle, but you can have some success with the tool.
But consistency and momentum matter. And it’s hard, as one person, to keep getting relevant PR hits.
It just is.
Success working with an agency
I’ve worked with agencies in the past that were helpful in some ways, but didn’t get any meaningful national PR that helped my business’ sales. And they were not inexpensive.
I recently started working with a woman named, Catenya McHenry, of Orca Communications. Orca is great because they have a unique business model that is very startup friendly, but they are very particular about the companies with which they work.
Here’s a screen shot of the header from Orca’s home page, which shows their clients’ PR successes:
I bet that got your attention. It got mine when I was checking them out-even though I’m very skeptical.
These past two months working with Catenya have been great; she got WeMontage placement on 3 large, city morning shows, a host of relevant blogs, and a hit yesterday in a photography pub, Shutterbug magazine.
Catenya also does a lifestyle TV segment in Birmingham, AL. Here she is in action repping my brand:
We have a few pending hits at major newspapers and magazines thanks to her efforts, and just this morning, we got a nice placement in Austin’s main paper, The Austin American Statesman, which will run in print this weekend.
KAPOW! Austin is a GREAT city and this should be good for my business.
Catenya also got me in a mother’s day segment on Good Morning America, but they kicked me out once they saw I was already on the TODAY Show.
It’s important to know what differentiates your biz, and make sure you’re good at whatever that is.
And it’s important to stay top of mind with customers by getting proper exposure, which you can do on your own, but is REALLY hard.
Finding a PR partner that hustles like you and delivers value is, well, invaluable.
If you can afford it, I recommend hustling on your own and hiring an agency. For me, it’s all PR and attention-getting hands on deck!
How have you been able to get PR for your business? Has it been all you, all an agency, or both?
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