In the world of entrepreneurial ventures and startups, there are frequent discussions of whether Public Relations is necessary (in fact, a Google search for the phrase “pr is dead” [in quotes, lowercase] returns 119,000 entries!).
The question resurfaced this week as a high-profile panel was held in Boston during a meeting of the Web Innovators Group on “An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Bootstrapping PR.” Excellent re-caps from those present at the discussion are available, but the gist is that the panel – sans a public relations representative – equated PR with media relations, and suggested that startups can do it just as well on their own.
Of course, PR professionals of all stripes bristle at this notion, but Solo PR Pros have a unique take. During Wednesday’s #solopr Twitter chat, a group of seasoned and successful independent PR consultants shared their thoughts about the role of PR, and the especially advantageous relationship that can exist between an independent PR counselor and a new business.
We first focused on the role PR plays for startups. Keeping in mind that Twitter's 140 character limit, some highlights:
- krisTK: We advise startups to think about who they need to reach to be successful. Publicity is but one way to reach key audiences
- LuAnnGlowacz: I’m not a publicist. No offense to publicists. A message should be honed by PR before publicity or media relations take place
- akenn: Important PR service to startups=helping to articulate the startup's value to various audiences & differentiate from competitors
- kelleylynnk: hey –anyone can buy a Cision/Vocus license. PR value is counsel, approach, strategy
- mdbarber: I always start with helping the biz figure out what their goals, targets are. Then, the plan comes…
- SunRiseCom: We provide realistic counsel and should help set expectations along with overall strategy of the new biz
- susanditz: With startups, often we have to begin with basic biz plan, identifying market, audience, differentiators, messaging B4 creating communications plan
- BettyEllis: To really add value, we must be like management consultants but with a PR-directed focus
The chat participants then discussed the special role that we, as independent consultants, can play for entrepreneurs:
- krisTK: PR consultants develop strong ties to clients, share their enthusiasm about the venture, attuned to needs, understand challenges
- mdbarber: As entrepreneurs ourselves, we’re better able to understand their needs. We come from same place
- kelleylynnk: There was a comment [during the panel] that agencies don't get out of bed for less than $4k a month – good reason to opt for solo folks!
- LScribner: With a #solopr, startups get more senior level attn and guidance. Agencies usually pull the bait/switch and put very junior team on the acct
- KellyeCrane: Independent consultants (w/lower overhead) can be more flexible – scaling up and down as needs warrant.
- LScribner: #solopr consultants become more in tune with the company, similar to in-house, stronger relationships are built
- mdbarber: Our virtual networks can be an advantage – we put together individualized teams for each client rather than cookie cutter.
- SarahDawley: Along w/realistic counsel, I think consultants provide a more relational & inspirational outlook for a new biz than a big agency
- kelleylynnk: solo folks can work w/companies they want, as opposed to having to take a client for the $$ to pay existing staff
- KellyeCrane: Independents tend to only work w/companies they're passionate about- huge advantage for clients
- cherissef: I also know that we can become advocates for startups. I love that I become part of their team.
These are just a few nuggets from an especially lively #solopr chat – read the full transcript here. Do you agree with the assertion that cash-strapped startups should consider PR entrepreneurs, rather than go it alone? What considerations would you add?