PR: A Powerful Tool for Startups on a Budget

September 26, 2014

Is PR worth it for startups? I recently wrote a post asking if startups really need PR. Of course, my take is that they do. Having lived and worked for years in startup land, i.e. Silicon Valley, I have many stories of how the power of PR transformed a company’s visibility. PR can provide this visibility for a fraction of the cost of other marketing or advertising methods. Of course, if you have the budget, it’s great to do all three, but many startups are strapped for cash.

So I came across this piece in the Huffington Post, Why HR, PR and IT Are Worthy Startup Investments, which makes the case for spending the precious cash startups do have on PR. The article makes a couple of important points about PR:

“In the end, the content promoted by a PR professional is free, and the PR service may well be cheaper than a TV ad or banner.”

This is something I often cover in my speaking engagements because it needs explaining. Many don’t understand that all they pay for PR is the cost of the time of the person doing the work. There’s no cost for true PR placements. PR differs from advertising in that you don’t know where or when the article may appear or what it will say. It’s not like placing an ad and knowing exactly what page it will show up and how it will read. But, think of it like this: Are you more likely to believe in a product or service when you read about it an ad or in an article? A study by Nielsen (commissioned by inPowered) concluded that PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising in the consumer decision-making process[i]. These stats to back up the fact that more of us are partial to what we read in articles versus ads. So, not only is PR less expensive than advertising, but it’s actually more credible.

Leading me to the second point the article made:

“PR is subtle and effective, working to earn attention instead of grabbing it.”

PR doesn’t hit you over head the way an ad can. “Buy this product! Buy it now and save! Buy, buy, buy!!!” And this is if you even read the ad….how many of us actually stop to read the ads?! On the other hand, if an article is published about your product, service or company, it will probably give an example of the product is being used, quote an actual user or, if it’s a review, give the opinion of the reviewer. This provides immediate credibility with the reader.

Yes, PR may be quieter than advertising, but it leaves a more favorable, lasting impression at a lower price tag—something to consider the next time you look at your marketing budget.

[i] http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2014/07/08/the-real-difference-between-pr-and-advertising-credibility/PR image

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