Press

Who are the best PR agencies or consultants and what is the expected cost?

Eric Wolfe CEO, Co-Founder at Swapt.com

April 29th, 2014

We're considering hiring a PR agency, so I was wondering if anyone had recommendations? Also, how much would a good PR agency cost and do you think it's worth the price?

We could probably handle all the PR on our own, but I don't want it to suck up an inordinate amount of time from building the product and business. Any advice is appreciated.


John Battelle Founder, EIC, CEO, NewCo

April 29th, 2014

The right firm has relationships with the kind of journalists and influencers that matter in your particular market, so the choice should be determined by that. Firms cost anywhere from $10K to 40K or more a month. And the best ones have their pick of who they work with, so you want to come referred. 

Everyone thinks they can handle PR on their own, but a great PR person/firm is invaluable, in particular as you go to market, or have a business that is really trying to make some change in the world, and is having trouble getting that story told well. 

Manolis Sfinarolakis

April 30th, 2014

A cheaper alternative to a huge PR company might be to put more emphasis on social media marketing and direct engagement strategies.  It would be more cost effective and a direct link to not only bloggers / tech journalists, but also a direct line to your customers.

Robert Hoskins (4,400+)

May 4th, 2014

A good PR person understands how to evaluate a media outlet's editorial environment.  Here's a simplified example of what that means. There are a ton of magazines out there.  Some cover circles. Some cover squares. Some cover triangles. You can determine what subject matters a magazine covers by examining their editorial calendar and reading the publication from cover to cover. 

The next step is to identify key reporters that cover the right beat or subject matter.  If you are selling a circle product, you not only need to identify all media outlets that cover circles, but also specific reporters the have written stories about circles. A good PR person has a nationwide database that can automatically sort reporters based on this criteria.  A typical search will turn up 150 to 300 reporters that cover any particular subject matter. 

In order to pitch a story to a reporter, it is important to not only understand a magazine's editorial environment, but also to understand what kind of stories each reporter writes on a weekly basis. This requires at minimum reading the last three stories they wrote.  

Most writers write with a formula or pattern. Learning their style allows a PR person to anticipate what kind of questions might get asked during an interview.  It also allows a PR person to understand how to pitch story ideas that are in tune with what reporters cover on a regular basis. 

The mistake that most inexperienced people make when trying to do PR on their own is failing to understand a media outlet's editorial mission as well as pitching stories to reporters that are irrelevant. Going back to circles, squares and triangles.  It is a complete waste of time to pitch a square story to a circle magazine. Readers who make circle buying and purchase decisions have zero interest in square products, thus a square pitch sent to a circle reporter will fall on deaf ears and be deleted.

Imagine how much time it would take to browse through a outlet's media kit, find the publication's masthead & editorial calendar, identify key reporters and then read their last three stories. And then based on all this information write a personalized pitch that is a good match for what they cover. For fun, we'll say this process takes at least 30 minutes. If you are working a media list of 150 reporters that would take 4,500 minutes or 75 hours.  And this doesn't include all the follow up once a pitch has been made or the time it takes to build a press kit prior to the PR campaign. 

Junior PR people make $35k per year. This breaks down to ~$18 an hour.  Experienced pros make $100k or around $50 an hour. Hiring a PR firm should be considered like hiring a full time employee.  You get what you pay for. 

This should help people understand how much work is involved as well as how much a good PR person's internal hourly rate is calculated. Add a PR firm's overhead to the equation and you'll find that average billing rates hover around $100 to $300 per hour. 

Paying $2,880 a month gets you a PR person straight out of college. Paying $8,320 gets you a seasoned consultant. An agency at $100 per hour will charge $16,000 to cover their overhead.

Hope this helps. My number is 512-627-6622 if you'd like to learn more.













Robert Hoskins (4,400+)

July 2nd, 2014

Our fees are $5k per month, which includes a full marketing communications package to support a crowdfunding campaign. Best Regards, Robert Hoskins Director, Media Relations Cell: (512) 627-6622 Front Page Public Relations Web | Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn

Maria

July 2nd, 2014

What did you decide on?

Chia-Lin Simmons Ex-Googler; Co-Founder / CEO RedHelicopter; Founder LookyLoo

April 29th, 2014

John beat me to it. I agree 100% with him on hiring a great firm and the best taking their pick of clients. The other method is to look for an extremely connected freelancer but that is also hard to find. Like many things marketing folks believe they can do it themselves. The valley is littered with companies wi th great products but failed due to good marketing and PR.

Don Daglow 3-Time Inc. 500 CEO, Technical Emmy® Award, International Speaker, Advisor at Founders Space accelerator

April 29th, 2014

I'd talk to Perrin Kaplan at Zebra Partners, who understands tech and online very well.  She is very senior and well-established but may be more responsive to a startup than some larger firms.  I've known her many years and can vouch for her.

The Wikipedia article about her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perrin_Kaplan

Zebra Partners: http://www.zebrapartners.net/

Laura Aslan Consultant at Scriptofan Technologies Inc.

April 29th, 2014

Perhaps Hermione could help you from:
http://www.waymedia.co


Eric Wolfe CEO, Co-Founder at Swapt.com

April 29th, 2014

John, Chia-Lin, and Daniel - Thanks so much for your responses and advice. Very helpful.

It sounds like everyone has found a lot of value in a good PR agency or freelancer. However, since we're a startup, we can't afford +$10k per month. I was hoping that there would be a more affordable option for a startup, but one that still adds value by really selling your story to the right publications/audience. Since every dollar counts at this stage, my biggest fear is "overpaying for a name" or taking on some ill-conceived, boilerplate solution to PR. 

Ideally, we're looking for a well-connected, intelligent freelancer to target tech press. I've heard a very wide-range of what this might cost us, so I was curious how this worked out for other entrepreneurs that were once in the same position. 

In any case, I really appreciate all the helpful advice. Thanks for taking the time.


Candice Hughes, PhD, MBA

April 30th, 2014

I have the same issue and encountered the same gap in services. If you are a seed stage startup with no product and no investors yet then there is no way this stage startup can afford $10K per month. All available funds are going into developing the product so you can get to the point of having revenue and hiring your first employee and maybe finally give the founders a bit of salary to pay their living expenses.

I spoke with a number of PR firms but none seem interested or have the right tools for a seed stage startup. I've been doing all the PR and marketing myself, but I also worked at marketing agencies for ten years. It does take up time that could go into other parts of developing the product and running the company, but so far I don't see any other feasible choice. PR needs at this stage are modest; you have nothing to sell, you are just trying to build awareness.