Eventually, every successful company reaches a time when it just makes sense to hire a PR firm. While the timing of this decision is unique to each business, there are some tried and true reasons that should encourage you to make this decision sooner than later.
1. You Don’t Have The Relationships. How many reporters do you know? Five? Fifteen? That’s cute. Try five hundred—or five thousand. Could you personally build these relationships? Of course, if you had a time machine and another decade.
2. Reporters Don’t Stay In One Place. Let’s say you knocked the first point out of the park. You still have a problem: today’s reporters are in constant transition (especially since the invention of the internet). Your longtime friend covering tech at The Wall Street Journal is now at Gizmodo, and next month they’ll be covering international finance for CNN. Many of them stay somewhere for only 6 months. Some of them leave the world of reporting altogether. Chances are, you personally don’t have time to keep up with more than a handful of these reporters.
3. You Have Limited Reach. Even if you had the contact information for 20,000 current reporters, you can’t pitch them all in the amount of time you have before your next launch.
4. You Vanity Outweighs Your Social Grace. Most entrepreneurs are good at one thing: pitching their company to anyone with ears, and for reporters, this gets old, very quickly. Introducing your company and your story to reporters is an art and when you do it, you can walk away looking either like a winner, or like a used car salesman. It’s like asking out a hot cheerleader—if you don’t know how to do it, your chances of being successful are slim.
5. You Can Miss Key Follow-Up Opportunities. If you’re company has a red-hot story (you’re partnering with Google, or Apple, or you just invented something that’s saving millions of lives), it’s easy to get swamped with reporter requests. If you miss an important interview, or forget to send your company logo to a reporter, or simply ignore “less important” press requests, you’re hurting your brand and relationships with reporters. PR firms are great at handling large volumes of seemingly mundane activities that add up to great exposure for your company.
6. You’re The Center of Your Universe. While an entrepreneur should be at the center of his or her company, it’s often hard to see trends and reasons why reporters should care (especially when they’ve already written about your company once). PR firms are great at finding new ways to tie your company’s story into what is trending in today’s news, freeing up your valuable time to do other meaningful things like work on your product or help your team.
Of course, there are some exceptions to these rules. You can occasionally do some of the things a PR firm can, but as a CEO or CMO, is it really the best use of your time? You may be hurting your company more than helping it. Public Relations is like taxes or surgery: get on with what you’re actually good at, and leave the rest up to the professionals.
By, Jennifer L. Jacobson is the founder of Jacobson Communication and a Silicon Valley leader known for helping great companies, organizations, and ideas get the attention they deserve. She is also a social media advisor and author, known for her book, 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business. Another must-read analysis by Jennifer L. Jacobson: 5 PR and Communications Tips for Startup CEOs Going Through Acquisitions.
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