Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A VC's View of PR

In a recent post on his blog, venture capitalist Mark Suster shares what he's learned about PR. 

His advice is meant for startups, but it's good advice all round.

PR is a process, not an event.  Patience and perseverence are essential.  It takes months, if not years, to build relationships with journalists.
PR can't be delegated.  You need help to research journalists, arrange meetings, pitch stories and write copy.  But you cannot delegate media interviews.  "If you want PR coverage, you’re going to have to dedicate a non-trivial amount of time to it."

If your budget's limited, don't hire a big PR firm.  You won’t get the senior team’s focus; instead, 22-year olds will do all your work (and won't have enough billable hours to do it justice).  If you need outside help, go to a small firm or an individual; or hire a part-time PR intern.

Be authentic.  Don't conduct interviews as if you were running for office.  "Talk like a human.  Give real answers.  Show a sense of humor and humility."

Have a viewpoint.  Too many executives avoid controversy.  That’s fine for the executives at Apple; they'll get coverage anyway.  But you need to go out on a limb and present informed opinions.

Don’t cry wolf.  "Make sure you’re not spewing out meaningless reams of press releases."  And don’t spam people.  The good stuff will get lost.

Get media training.  Media training will help you keep interviews on track and focused on the story you want to tell.
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