If you’ve ever worked with a top technology PR agency, you know the business of developing public relations programs for hot tech companies or startups can be challenging. That’s why it’s important that all members of your PR team are working in sync and that the time is being well deployed. To be successful, there are some key things to keep in mind from the start of a PR agency relationship.
Focus the team’s time. Life at a growing technology company — especially a startup — can be a whirlwind, round-the-clock kind of existence. When the activity is nonstop, it’s critical to prioritize the activities where PR resources can be most effective. Make sure the scope of PR work is clear. It may be tempting to ask the team to respond to website inbox queries, or to get media attention for a last-minute idea by the founder. Sometimes they’ll need to jump in, but as a rule it’s a waste to burn precious time on tasks that can be handled by internal staff, or that require lead time to be successful.
Stage your announcements to maximize PR. Have news to share? Great, but let your PR advisers help stage the news and announcements to generate maximum mileage. Many a great story has been lost because someone leaked a hot scoop, allowing the news to dribble out without a coherent media strategy. When timed strategically, you’ll be able to get more out of those announcements and continue generating buzz month after month.
Secure participation from partners in advance. It’s a huge advantage when you work with big-name partners who can help with PR by being quoted in the press, but make sure everyone is aligned on what they’re willing to do (or not) for publicity. We’ve seen companies invoke well-known VCs or celebrity partners on exciting new products and services, only to learn that there are hard limits on participation in media relations. Getting on the same page from the start will smooth bumps in the road when it comes time to execute on PR strategy.
Invest in the right places. If you’re ready to invest in a PR partner, be willing to think through other expenditures that may be necessary – or merely desirable – to make the most of that investment. That could mean more sophisticated tools for tracking social media, or spending on original surveys or proprietary research data, which can set you apart from the crowd. Maybe it’s a killer event to build stronger relationships with media and bloggers, or a series of media training sessions. Greater visibility raises the stakes for many startups.
Work only with experienced PR professionals. As explained in our tipsheet on how to hit your PR goals in the New Year, there are many moving parts in a full-fledged PR program, and it’s hard to keep things going at top speed when people are in roles that don’t suit their skills or desires. As in other creative services, experience counts in PR, and it doesn’t pay to settle for less when it comes to the team members. Don’t be afraid to move staffers around when your gut tells you it’s not working, or when a team is not aligned. It’s better to rip that band-aid off earlier rather than later.
Streamline tools. Tech loves its tools. But it’s important to be flexible and to streamline the use of tech tools for project management, reporting and ongoing communications. Your team might live and die by Asana, or you may love email, but if it’s creating more work to adopt new tools, find a happy medium that pleases everyone. Tools should simplify, not create more work.
Understand PR’s timeline. There’s always the possibility of a quick win, and the tips above help maximize the chances of that. But the fruits of strategic PR can take months to grow. Protect your PR investment by developing a robust program of tactics to avoid the “eggs in one basket” syndrome, then break down each program segment into deliverables and milestones to gauge progress against goals.