Most startups will invest in PR, because they know that it is the fastest and most trusted way to send information about a company and its products/services out to the world awaiting to try and buy that product/service. For some though, PR is still an abstract term and they do not know if they need to invest in it. I talk to prospect clients every week, and, from what I have seen in the enterprise space, most startups would benefit from PR. First of all, they don’t have the budget to advertise and the resources to measure ROI from their advertising efforts. PR and social media will generate immediate results and the marketing executives will not be worried that the board of directors will miss that banner or print ad about the company, because each investor has Google Alerts set up on his/her portfolio companies and will see the PR results right away.
Also, as social media is a big piece of the PR strategy these days, it is a quick way to engage in conversations with partners, media, and users. Google Alerts will track your Twitter conversations, showing the executive team and the board of directors that the world is interested in what their company has to say. In a lot of situations – depending on the product they are selling – companies get quality leads from their social media and PR efforts. Somebody took the time to read an article or Twitter post, and is contacting them back. They remember the company, what the product does, and want to know more. That is a hot lead.
Another option some startups consider is hiring somebody in-house to do both PR and Marcom. If the startup is lucky to find somebody with both PR and Marcom experience, who worked in the same industry and has strong relationships with both the media and publishers, it may make sense, but the startup has to be ready to spend more money on the PR tools needed to help the person do his/her job (news monitoring systems, databases of editors, awards and speaking opportunities, etc.). Most startups I know will not do that, because they will end up paying much more than hiring an agency. So, they do exactly that: hire an agency.