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So, should we hire a PR firm?

2 October 20, 2010
Does a little company like Ursa Major need a public relations firm? That's what we're wondering this morning. I mean of course a little co. needs to tell the story, and get the word out there, but these days, if a co. does an earnest job of telling it's story (online, through it's packaging, collateral, etc), is a PR firm a necessary? A PR skeptic might argue that instead of spending all that $$ on PR, a little co. should focus on telling its story as authentically as possible through WTF (web, twitter, facebook) and - if it's a good story - it'll resonate, meaning that on-brand consumers (and media) will pick up the story and carry it further. (If it's a boring story, well then there's a bigger problem...) We don't have the answer, but we would love to hear what others think. Should we a) hire a good PR firm to help us get the story out there (at significant cost - good PR firms don't come cheap) or b) focus on telling our evolving story as authentically as possible through our web site, blog, FB page, Twitter feed, packaging and daily conversations, hoping that will do the trick? (We snapped the photo above at a fantastic event in NYC a few weeks back called Re:form School - a Redu project promoting equal access to high quality education for all Americans... if anyone knows the artist name, please let us know and we'll note it here. Thanks!)






7 Comments

Oliver
Oliver

July 15, 2014

Some additional insight on this that just came in via email from a friend (a journalist):

“I think a publicist would be a great idea… Publicists are good because they aggregate lists of editors and publications and established publicists often times have a close rapport with those editors. And publicists are most often the first person to introduce to their network a new brand, launch or other initiative… Hiring a publicist is a proactive, targeted move. Web sites, blogs, FB pages, Twitter feeds, packaging and daily conversations are great, but relying on those is assuming influential publications are going to be on the lookout for the brand, but with an upstart, often times unfortunately they tend to overlook, instead checking out the Web sites, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of mid-cap companies or above. This has been my experience as a reporter.”

Thanks!

Oliver
Oliver

July 15, 2014

Great to hear from you, John. Thanks for kicking things off! Re: PR, “at it’s core, it’s relationship management…”, I hear you.

John Rooks
John Rooks

July 15, 2014

Hi Oliver – long time and distance since LOHAS (08?)

Here’s my two cents on a great question:
I see some overlap and differences (between WTF and PR) here.

Social Media (WTF) needs its own strategy. Small companies can and perhaps should manage these relationships as they are direct with customers and require the right authentic tone and voice. That’s a hard skill to outsource – though at some point you’ll need to. The parallel is outsourcing your customer service (not fulfillment CS, but the conversational stuff.) I suspect you should at least start off managing these relationships and telling the story. As you grow, you can separate out the corp. voice from the founder’s voice in social media.

PR needs its own strategy too. It will include some social media (and certainly we treat bloggers like “normal” reporters), but more often than not it is about leveraging and creating existing relationships with editors. At its core, it’s relationship management and being there when the story arrives (and yes, creating the story too). It’s about getting product in the right hands, and pitch pitch pitching.

Enjoy VT!

Andy Howard
Andy Howard

July 15, 2014

“Focus on collecting your firewood before striking your flint.”

Says it all. Beautifully put, JR.

Andy Howard
Andy Howard

July 15, 2014

Zolt’s tactics are on-point. What else could a PR firm achieve so early on in addition to what Zolt’s listed? Maybe some “bigger” connections or media placements, but at this point getting the product moving through the right media channels, fostering a dedicated group of customers and listening to customer feedback is more important. Real feedback and praise from peers is more effective right now – and helpful for you – than racking up media mentions.

JR
JR

July 15, 2014

While the question is not if, but when?… the answer(as I believe your gut is telling you) is ‘not yet.’

Avoiding a PR firm early-on aligns perfectly with your vision and the soul of the brand. BTW – So does hiring one at exactly the right time.

My advice is to focus on collecting your firewood before striking your flint.

This topic/thread is a stellar example of firewood. Good stuff O!

Zolton
Zolton

July 15, 2014

I would hold off out of the gate and focus more energy/resources on getting free write-ups on cool culture and men’s style blogs, which you can achieve yourself through samples and well thought-out follow-ups. I think PR, in the purest sense of the word, is less important than word of mouth buzz, which is generally more organic and, ultimately, more valuable.

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