As the tech market has been reassessed over the past quarter and marketing costs come under scrutiny for venture-backed companies facing cutbacks and layoffs, I’ve heard echoes of the beginning of this year when renowned technology founders and communications managers have recommended startups ditch their PR agencies.
Aside from cost, these arguments generally boil down to: Growth-focused tech brands can be more effective by shifting their focus away from earned media and moving straight into direct communication with their customers.
The biggest problem with this view is that if a tech company’s PR agency is only responsible for securing TechCrunch articles, there is an outdated perception of what PR firms can offer. Companies that only focus on media placements are a thing of the past. While the next generation of agencies remain expert storytellers, they are also digital experts who can find the medium to present it to the right audience at the right time. This means creating content for a viral TikTok, an expertly targeted social media campaign, creating sponsored content for podcasts, and producing stories and thought leadership that engage viewers and change perspectives through proprietary channels.
PR firms using these broader marketing playbooks add tremendous value to the startups in their portfolios. Using this to better understand what the best tech PR startups or companies are doing, let’s debunk some common PR misconceptions in the tech world.
Myth: Salaried employees can better tell the story of the company.
Do: Agencies are adept at telling stories that resonate rather than regurgitating “kool-aid.”
When startups hire a PR agency, you get the value of third-party experts who aren’t just drinking Kool-Aid in-house marketing — they’re looking to use their expertise to align the company’s product story with customers and overall market needs, whether SaaS, crypto, cybersecurity, AI or another industry. Agencies are adept at creating the dual-track PR campaigns private tech companies typically need to drive customer acquisition and simultaneously increase awareness among potential investors. Additionally, the industry relationships developed by working with hundreds of technology companies, combined with their knowledge of high-end content and distribution, enable agencies to more effectively manage large-scale communications while reaching targeted audiences better. than relying solely on an in-house team.
Myth: Tech brands spend too much time creating story ideas for their agency.
Do: Good agencies are a partner that creates engaging, data-driven stories themselves.
Companies will always be involved to some degree in the work of an agency – they are the ones being represented, after all. But today’s PR firms don’t just listen to a company story one day and pitch it to the the wall street journal the following. Businesses today use what they learn and create newsworthy stories and narratives with their years of experience that can feel comfortable across owned and earned media channels. These stories can be relayed in e-books, white papers, newsletters, podcasts and more. Of course, there will always be some oversight from a company, but in all honesty, the same degree of oversight is needed for an internal team as well.
Myth: The mediated strategy of the agencies is outdated.
Do: Good agencies are more than media relations machines.
An ever-growing number of startups and PR reps competing for space in an ever-shrinking pool of tech publications has made earned media harder than ever. PR agencies that limit themselves to this small pool of publications are doomed to fail. Many next-gen PR shops serving the tech industry have a payroll more dedicated to content production than media relations. They also have people dedicated to shaping company narratives, creating organic and paid social campaigns, engaging with influencers and beyond. A placed story still has huge marketing and business value, but because the ability to place these stories is limited, new tools in the PR handbook must be used.
Myth: There is no way to measure the results you are paying for.
Do: There are, and there are more than one.
As the boundaries of PR blur with content marketing and even digital advertising, there are more ways than ever to measure results – content tracking, improving SERP results, Google Analytics, social media and sentiment gauges are just a few. Combined with the tech industry’s adoption of marketing and sales metrics that tell you precisely who is watching your content and when and how they’re doing it, it’s easier to see how effective an agency’s strategy is. . This measurement, combined with the most powerful tool – word of mouth – means seeing precisely what you are paying for.
Myth: A better long-term strategy is to create PR programs from within.
Do: In an economy where there are many jobs, your agency can be a more profitable option in the long run.
In today’s technological world, workers change jobs frequently. They most often stay with a company for two years and then decide to jump to greener pastures. In this job-hopping economy, a good agency partner can stabilize technology marketing teams that continue to experience high turnover. Going the agency route can be an effective way to solve the 3 A’s that many HR teams struggle with. It is probably easier to to attract a partner agency, they are generally quicker to Enable at an optimal level of performance given their collective expertise and experience, and wear is not a problem as the agency is also looking for a longer term commitment. Add to that the fact that you’re onboarding a team of people who can probably handle a multitude of tasks instead of going the route of hiring multiple in-house specialists, and you can start to see the added cost reasons for complement an in-house marketing department with a good PR agency.
Kyle Austin is the founder and managing partner of Beantown Media Ventures (BMV)a PR, content and digital marketing agency that has helped hundreds of venture capital-backed startups generate inbound leads and establish valuations.