Marketing agencies · Marketing agency

Should I get a PR agency at a Series A stage?

Rohit Prashar Student at CT Institute of Engineering Management and Technology

October 18th, 2016

Series A stage of any startup is very critical when it comes to funding. I guess that any attention that is brought to it at that point will increase its chances. At first I thought to do marketing and PR roles on my own but I don’t have nor time nor the skills to do it. Then on the other hand, it seems like a trend for almost every startup to have PR and marketing agencies hired, I am not sure if that is a good idea. I would like to know your opinion about this.

Tom Cunniff Founder at Cunniff Consulting, B2B Brand Consultancy

October 18th, 2016

So much depends on how big the opportunity is, how crowded or uncrowded the marketplace is, and how fast you need to get to critical mass.

Your Series A investors will have plenty of opinions about all of these factors. Your job will be to sort out whether they are right about any or all of it.

Ignore the trends. Focus on getting the blocking and tackling work done first. Is it clear what problem your company solves? Is what you solve a "nice to have" or a "have to have"? Are you competing in the right category, against companies you can beat? Is your elevator pitch resonating with investors and prospects?

Monthly retainers can drain your funding fast. Nail the basic strategic communication first and only then worry about how best to spread the word.

Hope this is useful.

David Kralik

October 18th, 2016

I agree with Tom.  I wouldn't think of hiring a PR agency as a "box you have to check" at the Series A stage of the company.

A lot depends on your goals: what you are trying to accomplish by hiring them? 

Your comment about "increase its chances" sounds like you are of the mindset that if you increase product visibility, you will garner investor interest.  

That's certainly one approach to gain investor interest but ultimately, your financial statements and prospects for growth will make the final decision.

If you engage with a PR firm, I suggest you do so on a project-by-project basis vs. giving them a monthly retainer which ONLY increases your monthly burn rate which only makes investors more nervous.

I suggest identifying stories about your product success and then finding the right PR firm which can market those stories to those media outlets that you believe would be interested.

Gloria Luna VP Marketing - Brand builder and creative problem solver

October 19th, 2016

My experience is, investors look for a marketing/operations expert to be engaged to ensure a clear plan is in place that can be executed.  These two roles can be combined to consolidate your resources and will depend on where you feel you have to complement your skill set.  Kudos to you for recognizing you can't do it all and be successful.

PR is important to increase awareness and secure press coverage for a B2C brand and I'm not sure how applicable that is to you.  The most important thing a PR resource can bring is to leverage their press relationships to secure coverage and you will need to determine how important that is to grow your business.  I know of boutique agencies that are adjusting their offerings to customize their approach for start-ups (with limited resources) so you don't have to commit to the heavy retainer fees up front for services you may not need.

If you want to discuss further, please feel free to reach out.

Allan Chernoff CEO, Communications Strategist, Media & Speaking Coach, Writer, Video Producer

October 19th, 2016

As a startup, think of where you can realistically get a "bang for the buck" from spending on PR. Will influential news outlets be interested in your story?  At the early stage, it's usually smarter to build your reputation through thought leadership articles and videos that allow you to share your insights.