With the incredible success enjoyed by Instagram, SnapChat and WhatsApp – to name just a few – more startups are joining the tech gold rush and hoping to get the million (or BILLION) dollar phone call from Zuck or Bezos.
PR continues to be an integral part of the launch strategy of many tech startups hoping to strike it rich. Writers for TechCrunch, Mashable, and VentureBeat have become the king-makers of the tech world – or at least influential tech gossip columnists that tons of people follow closely. So it’s clear the value of PR is still high.
Here are 5 myths of tech PR for all you tech startups to consider before spending a dime (or a bitcoin) on PR:
Myth 1: PR agencies cost $10,000/month. Well, maybe they do in Silicon Valley where high-profile startups receive $50-100m rounds of funding, but everywhere else in the world PR is much more reasonably priced. Big name agencies cost a lot of money in part because they have a massive amount of overhead and large partner / ownership payout requirements. There are tons of smaller PR firms and independent PR consultants who, frankly, do just as good a job (heck, maybe better!) when it comes to winning media placements for their clients.
Myth 2: Rolodexes Count. Many PR firms would have you believe that their “rolodex” of media contacts guarantees they can get you noticed. The dirty secret about PR these days is that WHO you know matters much less than WHAT you know (i.e., the story you bring to the media). What’s more, there is so much staff movement in media outlets today that there’s a good chance who you knew yesterday at TechCrunch has been replaced by a total stranger, leaving you with the same old problem: how to “sell” your news based on its intrinsic value as opposed to your alleged cozy relationship.
Myth 3: Funding Matters. I’m not gonna lie, funding does matter. At least at first it does. Then you have to have other news hooks to get the attention of tech bloggers like hitting significant user metrics or introducing a radical, disruptive innovation. If you make your PR strategy about funding, you will enjoy a very short time in the limelight.
Myth 4: Proximity to Tech Blogs. Today tech writers come from almost everywhere. The need to live in high-cost markets like San Francisco or NYC is just not a requirement anymore thanks to that thing called the Internet. I live in Austin, where you can’t find one major tech blog. Still, we’re so darn popular these days – what with SXSW and ACL – that people are flocking to the Heart of Texas by the thousands. On any given day, I will run into CNN tech producers, tech bloggers and plenty of independent writers before lunch!
Myth 5: Content Creation. One way PR firms justify their rates is through the generation of content: plenty of press releases, blog posts, and faux articles. It’s all great, and does help with SEO, but some firms deploy content as a smokescreen to avoid explaining a lack of actual media placements. At the end of the day, getting picked up in local and national media outlets is what drives massive brand awareness, customer referrals and website traffic. Don’t forget to insist on results for you PR investment.
These tech PR myths were just the ones that came to mind. I’m sure there are others we could add, like the need to spend tens of thousands on supposed industry analysts like Gartner to somehow whip up impressive facts & stats to WOW the media. But let’s leave that I’ll leave that for another future post… In the meantime, do you have some Tech PR agency myths or experiences of your own to share? Feel free to do so below.
About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded his own tech PR firm in Austin for startups and small businesses in 2009 as one of the only PR firms in the country to provide performance-based PR pricing. In 2010, Dave launched PR over Coffee to provide small business & startup PR advice so that entrepreneurs and startups could practice “DIY” PR and promote themselves directly to media outlets. Follow Dave on Twitter @DaveManzer or email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.