How startups and PR agencies are like ‘ships in the night’

Hiring a communications agency often isn’t in the budget for new organizations, but it’s essential to getting a brand off the ground.

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Before Microsoft was even incorporated, Bill Gates famously asserted that if he was down to his last dollar, he would immediately spend it on PR. The (then) startup maverick Gates was, and remains, a rarity: an entrepreneur who fully appreciated the importance of communications in a company’s early going.

Strategic communications and media are often overlooked by fledgling organizations. That’s a result of many concerns for startups: time, money and staff are in short supply, and PR’s payoffs aren’t always immediate. Returns are hard to quantify. Sometimes it’s as basic as the fact that PR is not a priority. That’s understandable and communications professionals should bear some of the blame, too. Outside PR counsel is too expensive for many startups. It’s too easily relegated to the “nice to have” rather than the “must have.” It’s always something to think about when the company is stronger. External PR counsel has done a terrible job of appreciating the long-term potential of investing their time and expertise in startups that matter.

That view is also shortsighted. As competition for money and attention increases, audiences grow ever more fragmented, hindering startup success.

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