One common startup marketing trap is the lure of the press. A feature in the New York Times or an appearance on Oprah is considered the holy grail of publicity. But there are a few things you should know about publicity before you run out to hire a PR firm.
You don’t have any control over the messaging, and you’re stuck with the perception created by significant media coverage. Because of this, it makes sense to make sure that you’ve got the product and experience nailed before starting a major press push. Getting press too early will greatly reduce your ability to change and adapt.
The return on investment of PR campaigns is highly uncertain. Most good PR firms charge between $5,000 and $10,000 per month. Six months with a PR firm can be an investment of as much as $60,000. That’s a lot of money considering you don’t have any guarantees. Will people actually buy your product or sign up for your service because you were quoted in the New York Times?
For most startups, this uncertainty makes early PR more of a lottery than a sound business strategy. Don’t go to the press until you’re ready.