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man at a crossroads

I have a friend who is one of those guys who can sell anything to anyone. He’s so likable, everyone wants to be around him. He has no qualms introducing himself to a celebrity with their entourage hanging around, or to the recent immigrant who is working hard to gain her citizenship and make a living for her family.

Because of his innate ability to make people feel special from the moment he meets them, he is continually asked by startups to join their organizations to help them through that initial phase of getting launched.

Most recently, he decided his time is best spent by helping several organizations for a few hours each week…and, because he’s now a consultant, he’s faced with a new dilemma.

When Is It Time to Begin PR for Startups?

One of the big mistakes we often see startups make is to start the PR too late. Most call around a month before they launch.

This is too late.

If you want a PR program to work, I mean really work, ideally you’ll give the firm (or your internal person) a good six months to prepare. If you don’t have that kind of time, three months can work, but it’s not ideal.

Anything less than three months means you’re running around like a madperson, trying to get as much done as you can, and oftentimes the launch will not strategically coincide with the PR launch.

You want the business and PR launches to happen at the same time.

If you have enough time, it will be perceived you’re an overnight success because you will be everywhere all at once. If you don’t have enough time, the PR will begin to trickle in slowly and it won’t be as effective.

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About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm. She is the lead blogger at PR and marketing blog, Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing In the Round, and co-host of Inside PR, a weekly podcast about  communications and social media. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is now available.

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  • Tony Felice

    I would agree with everything here. I would add: If you consider PR as an expense you are unprepared for starting a new business. It is an investment that provides dividends over time. Public Relations now involves traditional news placement, contributed content and alignment with social media and other online engagement. In order to fully measure its impact, these components must work in concert and be measurable. Further, you must be honest about your capitalization and three months of engagement and expectations that PR will catapult you into the stratosphere is an unreasonable expectation. A good PR firm should hit the ground running and be able to deliver you solid news coverage within the first month of engagement. They must understand startups and be able to maximize your resources. Finally, this is a partnership and not marketing by abdication; you need to invest as much time and energy into this process as you did in your R&D and funding.

    • Gini Dietrich

      Amen, Tony! I wrote today about having realistic expectations. Just like you can’t build your business in three months, you can’t expect PR to work that quickly.

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