So You’re Hiring a PR Agency. Is the Timing Right?
In the B2B tech industry, building relationships with reporters, influencers and analysts is of vital importance to getting the word out about your company and products. No one would argue with that.
But for many startups, it’s not a matter of whether… Timing is everything — drawing attention too soon could dilute the impact of your launch, and waiting too long could mean you risk losing out on critical opportunities to build awareness and momentum.
Start Early and Build Your Story
Startups often make the mistake of focusing too much on the product and not enough on the brand promise, falsely believing that the groundbreaking features and capabilities of what they’re selling will be enough to generate interest. They may wait until the product is ready to launch, then send out the press release thinking it will be picked up by hungry reporters waiting to hear about how the product has that one cool feature that’s missing from the competitors’ products.
In reality, if the reporter doesn’t already know about you and has a sense of how this amazing new product of yours is relevant to their audience, they won’t care. In other words, it’s not just about coordinating launch activities; building and telling your story behind your products is what will garner attention and set the stage for a successful launch.
That’s why it’s critical in most cases to engage an agency early. Ideally, a company should bring on a PR firm when they’re going through the initial branding exercise — from naming the company to developing and launching the website. This is sometimes referred to as “stealth mode” and comes prior to an official announcement. A PR agency should get involved 6-9 months prior to the official launch to provide guidance, solidify messaging and positioning, and help the company build a story that will win over the press and analyst community.
Another ideal time to bring on a PR agency is after securing Series A financing. At this stage, a startup usually has a solid product ready for market and beta customers using it, and a PR firm can help them continue the momentum by capturing and promoting testimonials and case studies, and preparing for official product launches.
Launched Already? It’s Not Too Late
Perhaps you’ve already launched your brand and products officially and have managed to get some traction with the media. Engaging with a PR agency post-launch can help you navigate the next phase of building brand awareness.
When a startup starts signing on customers who are using the official release of the product (not beta) and are willing to talk about their experience with the company and products, a PR agency can help you maximize the impact of those customer stories with the press. Additionally, they can leverage those testimonials to add credibility when talking to analysts about the potential market impact of your offering.
A Caveat — It’s a Team Effort
Some startups, eager to hand off the job of building brand awareness to an outside agency, expect their image to magically transform without their involvement. Of course, this is impossible — a winning PR strategy is a team effort. Successful companies think of — and interact with — their PR agency as an extension of their internal marketing team. When the agency has a seat at the table, they are connected, informed and able to drive the full potential value from the engagement.
Although startups often have many demanding priorities, PR has to be near the top of the list. CEOs and other key internal stakeholders must prioritize press and analyst meetings and clear their calendars when an opportunity arises. The press is impatient, and you’re vying for their attention along with your competitors. Your PR agency can’t provide maximum value if these activities take a backseat.
Waters Agency hires only senior-level marketing and PR professionals that work closely with clients to set clear, achievable goals that align with their expectations and business initiatives. If you’re coming out of stealth mode and need a solid strategy for your launch, or if you’ve just launched and want to take your PR efforts to the next level, contact us to find out how we can help.