When do you get a PR agency?

Please excuse this post. It’s a little bit self-indulgent from me as this is my response to a conversation I was having on Twitter. I’m not even sure the people I was talking to on Twitter will read it, but here goes…

It started with this tweet.

Tweet by @chrissyfarr

And so I replied (if you follow the link above you’ll see my responses). But it got me thinking and I realised that I couldn’t say what I wanted to in 140 characters, or even in several multiples of that.

I can completely understand the sentiment behind this – a reporter has a good relationship with a founder and finds them a good source of information (about their own company, but probably about the wider sector too) and suddenly that relationship and that source disappears. We’d all be pissed off about that.

But if you look at it from the founder’s point of view – they’ve just been given a bunch of money to make a step change to their business. The money is meant to make a significant difference and suddenly the founder’s targets, requirements and responsibilities have changed dramatically. In the same way suddenly the day-to-day activities that they were doing at the previous stage are not the same day-to-day activities they need to be doing now. I can imagine that there are lots of changes and of course the money means that they can now hire people (including a PR agency) to do some of those tasks they are leaving behind.

Personally, I don’t think it’s the fact that someone else is doing the task I think it’s the way the whole thing is handled.

Too often an agency will win the business and suddenly a junior will be employed to do the media relations. The journalist goes from speaking to a senior executive that not only knows their business inside out, but also knows the sector intimately, to speaking to a junior PR exec that isn’t quite sure of their own name (or that’s how it seems). If that is coupled with the fact that the founder hasn’t done a proper handover and highlighted the journalists they already know well (possibly even sending a personal email to a few) then that is bound to piss people off and completely justifiably.

In summary: of course the founder in this situation should get people to help take over some of the workload (that’s what the money is partly for), but pick a PR agency with senior people that know what they’re doing and give them a proper handover.

– – –

Of course I would say all of this – I run a PR agency. But I’m also the founder of a start-up.



Filed under Work

3 responses to “When do you get a PR agency?

  1. Hey! I found your blog via the “10 mile swim” blog, written by my college classmate Melinda, who is inspiring me to swim more — and was surprised, as I scrolled down, to find you talking about Christina Farr, who works with me at VentureBeat. Two points of connection! And totally unrelated to one another. So, I just wanted to say hello.

    Also – thanks for taking the time to reply to Christina’s complaint politely and thoughtfully. So much nicer than the usual Twitter battles.

    • Hi Dylan, thanks for getting in touch – it’s funny when two worlds collide. When I’m not in the water I’m in PR.

      Good luck with all the swimming. Are you training for anything specific? As for the reply to Christina, I try not to use this blog for too much work stuff, but I couldn’t help myself. One of the problems with Twitter is that the reduced number of characters seems to force people to make their point more extreme and entrenched. As with most things, there needs to be more balance and nuance.

      • Hey there! I’m not training for anything specific. Right now I’m mostly using swimming as cross-training once a week, hopefully boosting that to 2x/week within a month. I mostly run. Eventually I’d like to do the Sharkfest swim, from Alcatraz to San Francisco, but I’m not quite able to do 1.5 mile in open water yet.

        Twitter: Very hard to do “nuance,” you’re right!

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