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Startup's Guide To Public Relations

This guide is everything a startup founder wants to know about Public Relations but is too afraid to ask. How much should you spend on public relations? How should you measure PR? Is a retainer the right choice?

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Startup's Guide To Public Relations

  1. 1. Building Brands and Going Fast The Startup’s Guide to Public Relations
  2. 2. What Is Public Relations? When most people refer to public relations, they’re referring to getting your name or story into the news. Public relations can also include working on press releases, speech writing, pitching journalists, executing special events, conducting market research on messaging, writing / blogging, creating crisis strategies, social media promotions, and managing responses to negative opinions. Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public. Wikipedia
  3. 3. Public Relations Is Not Advertising Advertising Paid media that sells to people. Public Relations Earned media that informs people. Designed to build trust Offers 3rd party validation Never guaranteed Journalists/editors control the final message $/impression is very low – great for exposure Designed to build leads Audience is often more skeptical Guaranteed placement Your message, exactly $$$/impression – conversion oriented
  4. 4. How To Set Your Expectations Most Agencies • Hide behind bogus “reach” statistics • Over promise, under deliver • Will promise the world – as long as it’s not in the contract • Won’t tell you the variables up front • Every story is different • Reporters have unknown workloads • We are fighting politics, weather, and everything else that vies for attention • We will never compromise on your brand story for a cool placement • There are good stories in bad publications • There are bad stories in good publications • Every reporter is a complex person • The birth of a royal baby will kill your story • Yes, this has happened • Someone in your company will hate the news story • There’s almost always a surprise • No story is perfect You Are Entering a World of Nearly Infinite Variables
  5. 5. Public Relations Snowball Effect Unlike most advertising, public relations can have a cumulative effect. News, social shares, and speaking engagements all drive each other with only two inputs: • Newsworthy announcements • Time/money
  6. 6. PR Input #1: Newsworthy Announcements We’ve all been there. A client has the most amazing news to share and simply cannot wait to have you write a news release and put the “news” on the wire. Cringe. Sigh. All the journalists wait expectantly at the delete button. • World firsts • Industry firsts • Company firsts • New products • Breakthrough technology development • Study with new information • New accounts with major significance • Availability in a new region • National consumer sweepstakes “ ”- • Partnerships • Acquisitions • New CEO • Strategic announcements • Awards • Region-specific news • Lead trade show sponsorship • Industry requirements • New office / location When should you be making news?
  7. 7. PR Input #2: Time 1) Story Development & Research 2) Writing Releases 3) Pitching Journalists 4) News Evaluation HUMAN TIME INPUT Many founders start out doing these things themselves. This isn’t incorrect. In some case, it teases out latent capabilities to deal with the media that will be very handy later in a company’s lifecycle. However, it’s time consuming and it’s often better to delegate most of the process. Over time, a founder’s involvement should draw down to a low-hum rather than be a constant time-sink.
  8. 8. The Cost of Delegating Public Relations Retainers Hourly rates Project-based fees Payment-by-results A la carte pricing A monthly amount which typically has a set of potential actions or hours defined in the contract. Typical minimum retainer contract length is 6 months. A low retainer doesn’t necessarily mean a good deal. It often means the support you get will be minimal (reactive) press support. A very low retainer may not cover pitching new stories or come with a very restrictive number of hours. 2k - 30k / mo The “sweet spot” is generally 5-10k to use a small boutique firm
  9. 9. The Cost of Delegating Public Relations Retainers Hourly rates Project-based fees Payment-by-results A la carte pricing On the low end, you’re hiring an IC straight out of college. On the high end, you’re hiring an executive with TV connections. Regardless of whether you choose a retainer or hourly rate, the firm will nearly always try to push the work towards the lowest paid person on their team to maximize their revenue. If the person you’re working with does a good job, they’ll likely be promoted and someone else will start working on your account. $20 - $500 / hr The average is ~ $125 to $190/hr depending on region. US West is most expensive.
  10. 10. The Cost of Delegating Public Relations Retainers Hourly rates Project-based fees Payment-by-results A la carte pricing If you have a large announcement outside your normal public relations, this is the ideal method. Examples include: • Large product launches • Parties • Demo days • Press galas & dinners • Conference planning • Grand openings • Sales promotions The cost will vary greatly depending on the project and whether it needs on-site support or celebrity participation.
  11. 11. The Cost of Delegating Public Relations Retainers Hourly rates Project-based fees Payment-by-results A la carte pricing Paying per performance means that they share the risk with you. Pricing in this model can vary wildly, but it comes down to what you’re both comfortable with. The largest downside is that it becomes easy to “optimize for the wrong metric”. Startup A hires Agency X to do public relations on a payment-by-results basis. They’ve chosen a sliding scale based on the public “reach” of the publication. The bigger the publication, the bigger the payment. Startup B hires Agency X to do public relations on a payment-by-results basis. The metric they’ve chosen is number of stories in the press. The more stories, the bigger the payment.
  12. 12. The Cost of Delegating Public Relations Retainers Hourly rates Project-based fees Payment-by-results A la carte pricing Think about “a la carte” as the gig economy brought to PR. It works great for a task that could almost be automated. Many firms offer simple services via a published pricing menu. If your story or product is complex or you’re looking for a big impact, consider looking elsewhere. Top reasons to use: • Creating a simple press release • Creating some basic graphics or a infographic • Writing social media posts
  13. 13. Measuring Impact RITE: the acronym to live by when measuring PR impact: • Reputation is the measuring stick • Include all results • Targeting is tunable • Expect the unexpected * Remember: Conversions are the goal of advertising 1) Look back at the process. Did you meet the deadlines you set? 2) Did you meet the pre-defined definition of success? 3) Did the story (or stories) produced positively impact reputation? 4) Choosing a single variable, what would you change for next time? Questions to ask yourself and the team:
  14. 14. Choosing The Right Partner Find the person or agency that makes your feel most comfortable, yet challenges you to think differently. This person or people will impact your company’s public image. That’s no small thing. Vet Their Hiring Process Meet as many low level employees as possible. With most agencies, you will get very few hours with anyone outside of your short-lived account representatives. Don’t Believe The Hype Journalists are gate keepers. No public relations wizard exists that can get bad stories into the New York Times. Take any name or outlet drops with a heap of salt. Big Fish / Small Pond It may seem attractive to use the same firm as your favorite movie studio, but your budget will pale in comparison and you will be competing with bigger fish for time and attention. Consider In-House Don’t completely rule out handing PR in-house. Agencies never understand your business as well as you and agency turnover means constant retraining. In-house may increase effectiveness.
  15. 15. Is Pistondrift The Right Partner? The Pistondrift PR Process
  16. 16. Pistondrift PR Process – High Level Kickoff Define Success Deliver Results Gather information Capture excitement Analyze opportunity Analyze risks Clear deliverables Proposed timeline Finishing release Outreach to press Qualitatively & quantitively measure results Iterate process based on results
  17. 17. Pistondrift PR Process – Detail Kickoff Gather information - Capture excitement - Analyze opportunity & risks 1) Start Shared Document – this will eventually become the release 2) List 6 key bullet points that answer some of the following: • What should every reader take away about your company? • What makes this news exciting? • What makes this news unique? • Is this a world first? • Is this an industry first? • Is this a company first? • Is this a new technology? • What makes it important? • Is this a new customer? • What makes this important for the customer? • How will this affect other companies in the industry? • What impact does this have on the average person? • How does represent a shift in thinking? • What is the economic benefit? • What motivated this news? 3) List any risks or no-go areas – is there anything we don’t want a reporter to ask about?
  18. 18. Pistondrift PR Process – Detail Kickoff Gather information - Capture excitement - Analyze opportunity & risks 1) Set rough delivery date for news (typically about 14 days out +/- 5 days) 2) Set rough press target (i.e.: local, trade, technology, top-tier, radio, tv, etc) Also consider what an acceptable fallback target will be. Define Success Clear deliverables - Proposed timeline
  19. 19. Pistondrift PR Process – Detail Kickoff Gather information - Capture excitement - Analyze opportunity & risks Define Success Clear deliverables - Proposed timeline 1) Journalist targets set & pitching begins 2) If an interview is requested, a spokesperson interview prep-sheet is created 3) Story placed 3) Post-story summary provided with any follow-on press, republishing, or online comments Deliver Results Finishing release - Outreach to press - Measure results
  20. 20. What Is Pistondrift? Track record of providing Tier-1 press, coordinating 80+ conferences/year, managing multiple agencies, and tuned into the latest in marketing technology. Placed press in nearly every major outlet in 2018/2019. Pistondrift's mission is to bring positive brand impact through experiential marketing.
  21. 21. Pistondrift Leadership Pistondrift is the brain-baby of Nick Allain. Nick is a brand designer and entrepreneur who, after growing the Spire brand from an unknown to a leader in aerospace, decided to combine his two largest passions: building brands and going fast. Fun Fact: Those red shoe laces were on-brand. Loren Grush The Verge Nick Allain Pistondrift
  22. 22. Let’s Work Together & Enjoy the Journey Nick Allain (774) 922-2894 (direct cell) I am always open to meeting great people, exploring ideas, and sharing a pot of coffee. Don’t hesitate to reach out.