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PR Isn't Everyone's Forte. Is It Time For You to Bring in the Pros? A PR expert explains how and when you can tell you need to level up your PR game and stop trying to do it all on your own.

By Liang Zhao Edited by Kara McIntyre

Key Takeaways

  • Startups struggling with a lack of in-house media expertise and limited resources can greatly benefit from hiring a PR agency or freelance communications professionals.
  • Consistent and strategic messaging crafted by PR experts can reinforce a startup’s brand identity and narrative across all avenues of communication.
  • Beyond media pitches, PR agencies provide comprehensive services like crisis management and social media strategy, helping startups grow their reach and achieve their ambitious targets.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As any startup founder or entrepreneur will tell you, managing your company's press and public relations can be a daunting task. The decision of whether to handle it in-house, consult with a freelance expert or bring in a PR agency is a crucial one that requires careful consideration. Here are some key factors to explore that may indicate it's time to enlist the expertise of a PR firm or freelancer for your startup and what options might work best for your team.

Related: When to Spend on PR and When to do It Yourself (or Not at All)

Lack of expertise: A complex media landscape

First and foremost: Know your limits. One of the primary considerations when deciding to hire a PR agency is the level of expertise within your team. If you or your colleagues lack experience in media relations, navigating the intricate media landscape can be especially challenging and take up a massive amount of time that could be focused elsewhere. A PR agency brings a wealth of expertise, helping you craft effective media strategies and secure meaningful coverage based on their wealth of knowledge, which much less stress on you and your team.

Freelancers are another fantastic resource offering cost-effective solutions for specific PR needs, allowing startups to access specialized skills without a long-term commitment. Hiring a freelance communications manager for a campaign, engaging a content creator for blog posts or bringing in a crisis management expert for a specific situation can be a huge value add without straining a startup's limited budget.

By entrusting the complexities of media relations to seasoned professionals, you not only ensure that your brand is presented in the best light but also free up valuable time and resources to concentrate on your core business functions. This allows you to tap into the agency's proficiency, drawing on their insights and connections to navigate the media landscape efficiently and strategically. Ultimately, partnering with a PR agency or freelance expert becomes a strategic investment, enabling your team to benefit from their specialized skills and experience while optimizing your overall business focus.

Limited resources: Juggling responsibilities

Startups often operate with limited resources, and if your team is already stretched thin with various responsibilities, dedicating time to effective media relations may be a luxury. A PR agency can efficiently manage your current media efforts, as well as plan crucial next steps, allowing your team to focus on core business functions while gearing your company for success.

PR agencies also play a pivotal role in shaping strategic messaging for startups. They bring a fresh perspective, market insights and a deep understanding of how to position a brand for the best results. By working closely with your team, a PR agency can help distill complex ideas into clear and impactful messages that resonate with the media and your target audience, which is of particular importance when you're working to build your brand and reach your target customer demographic.

It's important to note that collaboration, as in many industries, is an ongoing process. Regular check-ins and feedback loops help maintain alignment as your startup evolves and responds to market dynamics. A dynamic collaboration, rooted in a shared vision from the outset, not only enhances the efficacy of PR initiatives but also contributes to a more enduring and mutually beneficial partnership between your startup and the PR agency.

Related: Should You Hire a PR Firm or a Boutique PR Firm? (And What's the Difference?)

Crafting a consistent narrative

Consistency is crucial in messaging. Whether it's a press release, a media pitch, social post, talking point or thought leadership article, the messaging should seamlessly align with your brand's identity, reflecting a cohesive and recognizable narrative. PR agencies invest time and effort in thoroughly understanding your brand, its values and its unique selling propositions. This deep understanding allows them to distill the essence of your brand into a comprehensive messaging strategy that resonates with your target audience — whether it's addressing journalists, engaging with stakeholders or crafting content, the agency ensures that the messaging remains coherent and aligned with your overarching narrative.

The consistency achieved by PR agencies is not just about repeating the same phrases but about creating a holistic and evolving story for your brand. This involves meticulous attention to detail, ensuring that the tone, language and key messages align across all communication touchpoints. Consistency breeds familiarity, and a well-crafted narrative that remains constant across diverse channels fosters a sense of reliability and trust among your audience.

Need for specialized services: Beyond media relations

PR agencies offer a multifaceted approach extending beyond traditional media relations, providing specialized services such as crisis management, social media management, media training and content creation. This comprehensive strategy ensures startups receive a holistic PR solution addressing both proactive and reactive communication needs.

Additionally, PR agencies bring pre-established networks, saving valuable time in building relationships with journalists and media professionals. With connections spanning diverse media outlets, industries and even global markets, these agencies enhance a startup's reach, credibility and influence. The breadth of services and expansive networks collectively contribute to a well-rounded PR strategy, aligning with the unique needs of startups and positioning them for success in an ever-evolving media landscape.

Related: Pros or Pretenders? How to Choose a Reliable PR Agency in 6 Steps

Goals for growth: Strategic investment

If your startup has ambitious growth objectives, investing in a PR agency or consulting a freelancer can be a strategic move. The enhanced visibility and credibility garnered through effective PR can open doors to new opportunities, partnerships and investor interest, contributing to your company's overall growth.

Overall, keep it simple — be sure that the decision to hire a PR agency aligns well with your startup's unique needs and goals, and be aware of the collaborative nature of working with a PR team or freelancer. If you find that your team lacks expertise, faces resource constraints, requires specialized services, aims for broader reach or is looking to grow aggressively in the coming year, it may be the opportune moment to consider bringing in the professionals. A well-crafted PR strategy can be a game-changer for startups, propelling them into the spotlight and paving the way for sustained success.

Liang Zhao

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO and Founder of Vansary

Liang Zhao is the founder of Vansary, a marketing and public relations consultancy that specializes in technology and investor communications. Zhao has her master's degree in finance from Tulane University and has been featured in WSJ, U.S. News, Fortune, Bloomberg, USA Today and more.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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