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Signal Strength With stronger marketing efforts, VC firms are making sure their message gets heard.

By John F. Ince

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Looking for signs of a VC rebound? Take a second glance at thosepress releases in your company mailbox. VC firms are ramping uptheir marketing efforts twofold by hiring PR firms to promote theirown portfolio companies and full-time marketing people to get theircompany names before prospective entrepreneurs. "I wouldestimate that the number of dedicated marketing professionals whowork on staff or [on] a consultant basis for venture capital firmshas more than doubled in the past four years," says EmilyMendell, director of public affairs at the National Venture CapitalAssociation.

As VC firms try to raise new funds from limited partners,they've discovered that brand recognition is becoming moreimportant. VCs are growing more aggressive so they can be the firstto discover a hot deal or get a shot at the most promisingentrepreneurs. This is especially true at smaller, regional firmsthat don't already have high visibility within theentrepreneurial community.

"This trend is saying that many venture capital firms havepicked their heads up from the triage mode they were in from 2000to 2002," says Mendell. "Now they have the time to lookahead and think strategically about positioning. It's apositive sign."

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