Coming from the agency side, it’s a question I wish I got more often. Here’s what startups need to know when working with PR firms:
1. Give them access. Your PR firm should be asking you for access to your company’s thought leaders. Provide it. Early on, the firm you’re working with should be talking to the movers and shakers at your company—product managers, marketers, customer service representatives, you name it. Without a complete view of your company from the inside out, your PR firm will miss opportunities to insert you into the stories that matter.
2. Don’t silo PR and marketing. The efforts of these two departments will overlap. In the case of a bootstrapped startup, the efforts of these two people will overlap. Give your PR firm visibility into your marketing efforts. If you’re running weekly email campaigns and planning an event blitz, your PR firm needs to be in the loop.
3. Think of your firm as a business partner. And treat it as such. See Nos. 1 and 2.
4. Push your firm for creativity. Then let it push back. If you’re a startup, your PR firm should be bringing you big ideas. It’s OK to say no.