Outspoken entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is suddenly persona non grata
among the public relations community. That’ll happen when you write a statement in your book (also published in Entrepreneur
) and publish a subsequent blog post: “Why Startups Shouldn’t Hire PR Firms
Cuban sums up his position in the post: “I have no doubt that a smart PR person can add value to a startup. The problem is that all things considered, it’s not enough value.” Cuban goes on to produce his own pitch letter to show us all how easy it is.
Veteran PR professional Peter Himler isn’t buying it
. He sees PR pros as necessary —especially for startups—in a crowded tech landscape:
“ … the reality is that tech journos are drowning in hundreds of daily story suggestions—mostly irrelevant—but many from path breaking companies whose products or services actually merit editorial consideration.
“The ability to capture the limited bandwidth of a tech or startup beat reporter takes time, trust, perseverance, ingenuity and frankly, a little luck. Clearly a company’s co-founder has better things to do with his or her time.”
There are two reasons why this is a suddenly relevant debate:
1. It was started by the owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
If anyone outside the public eye writes this post, it might get retweeted among a small circle of people, but it would be laughed off. That Cuban built a fortune on creating and selling startup companies is noteworthy. Plus, Cuban is a fun guy to disagree with.
2. PR pros hate it when their profession’s relevance is called into question.
The Public Relations Society of America’s PRSay blog reached out to Cuban and published a Q & A
where he stops well short of taking back his feelings about PR and startups. The suggestion that someone who launches a startup could also make a sufficient PR person for the company isn’t going to sit well with many in the industry.
And now for the at-the-end-of-the-day part: If startups stop hiring PR firms to help get them media exposure, the PR profession will survive. On a case-by-case basis, it’s quite possible that you’ll see some startups thatdon’t need the services of a PR firm. On the other side of the coin are those startups that will greatly benefit from those services.
Cuban, a successful businessman, is telling us how he
would run a startup. Still, it’s a fun (and incredibly timely) debate.