PR for startups – How to work together with an agency

Avatar photo Jörn Dunker - 30th Mar, 2016


PR should be about telling the truth – plain and simple.  To the media, to the client, in general. With this post, we would like to give the dear reader a brief introduction to PR, so that you feel equipped with knowledge and therefore can purchase good service – if necessary.

We have put together 5 short tips for quick readers on how a company should work together with a PR agency.


  • Most startups should not be spending money on a PR agency, and can do most of the work themselves. Here is our guide.


  • Approach agencies at least 2 months before your launch to that you can chose wisely and onboard them properly. The selection process can take up to a month, given everyone’s busy schedules.  And you don’t want an agency that has time to come see you right that minute. Enthusiasm is a must, but too much spare time is a warning.


  • Hiring an agency is a lot of work: You need to invest time and money in the beginning. We work best with sufficient data and surveys, opinion pieces and to place you on stage of great events. Are you ready to do all that?


  • Share what is on your mind and what is going on. The truth hurts sometimes, but makes it easier for everyone to find a way.


  • A CEO as the first line of contact for the agency becomes nearly always a bottleneck of information for the PR agency. Hire someone internally or make sure, you have enough time to spend with the agency.



An initial Brief is essential

Startups should absolutely give a brief to their prospective agencies of what they want and expect.  Why?  First, it saves them time and gives the agencies the same information needed for the outlined goals.  Second, it forces startups to think through the challenges they will face, and to clearly articulate them and their KPIs.  It’s a dangerous advice to say you don’t need any of that.

We call it a brief and we ask for the complete details of the business problems, a prospective client is facing as well as their expectations.  This keeps the company from wasting time, telling the same story over and over again to many agencies and we are able to start in on our questions straight away, have a creative and progressive conversation.  In addition, we can quickly think of similar situations, that we have had in the past with other clients and talk you through how we have handled it as well as the overall outcome.

We are convinced that in fifty percent of the cases, the outlined business problem cannot be solved by PR. We will say so and tell the prospective client to invest in marketing or online advertising rather than PR. PR is for building a brand, not increase sales. Final point: a great agency puts a lot of time and research into a proposal – we neither want to waste your time nor ours, so making sure that a prospect is as qualified as possible is in both party’s best interests.


3-6 Month Commitment

Hire an agency, which has lots of expertise in your field of business. Always ask for things that could go wrong – that also shows, that they have gathered a lt of experience and can think of crisis communication.

And yes:  In most cases starting from nothing to getting coverage takes quite some time – depending on how silent you have been before, how established your business is and how many far more well-known competitors are out there.  Journalists are naturally quite skeptical, and they won’t write about you without sending your story through a filter, determining if you are something new – or just one amongst all the others. Frankly: Your launch may not be of interest for any news outlet. Sorry – and it is the PR agency’s job to tell you so. But if you have good data or a surprising story to tell – you probably will end up in the media. The agency’s job is to find that angle and as kfor the data.

Oh and PR is people’s business to a certain extend. Be sure your agency is well connected.


Communication is Key

Communication is our daily business.  Of course, if you only want someone to blindly execute, you do not really want to communicate much with them, hence a PR agency is more expensive than hiring an additional PR Manager.

But the real value PR people offer is, to be your ear to the market and media. To be honest and curious. To be thought-provoking. If you limit us to short reportings or a rushed call a month with a half-heartedly press release and no data, you will simply not get the most out of the relationship and you potentially great press work. The secret is: Keep the agency in the loop of how you naturally communicate, make them a part of your company-body. Hire an agency that is known to be a good listener, an efficient and independent co-worker, but also knows when to shout for attention, when they feel misinformed or left behind.

So we spend a great deal of time in on-boarding, investing in the relationship.  But yes, we also limit the amount of reporting we do – we want to spend our time getting results, and after the initial orientation, we focus on being as efficient as possible.

Would you like to expand your brand?

Get in touch with us today.