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Hiring a public relations (PR) agency, especially for smaller and more nimble startups, can often be a substantial investment from a budgetary and resource perspective. While the measurement for the effectiveness of PR is clearly becoming more tangible as part of today’s digital and metrics-driven world, the decision to hire any external vendor may appear as a risk when the return on investment is unclear.

While many companies actively debate when is the best time to hire an agency – boom – your competitor lands a feature in The Wall Street Journal and your company wasn’t mentioned. Or perhaps a large funding round is materializing sooner than expected, meaning you need urgent help with messaging, positioning, and influencer outreach.

We get it!

We’ve outlined five instances below that may be a bright, flashing, red sign that it’s time to hire a PR agency:

  • You’re planning for a big launch, funding announcement, or corporate update: PR is a powerful tool to create buzz when your company makes a large announcement. Not only do they help with content development via press materials (i.e. a press release, blog posts, fact sheet, social posts, etc.), but they have the relationships to tell your story to relevant press and analysts for a large impact.  
  • You’re interested in competitive tracking and performance or your competitors are outpacing you: There is nothing more frustrating when you see your competitors get more coverage than your company, especially when you know your product is better, faster, or less complex. If you see your competitors mentioned more within the media, beating you in sales discussions with prospective customers, or leading the charge in terms of defining your market, it’s definitely time to hire a firm to halt that process!
  • You’re investing in other areas of marketing, like SEO, content, etc: A successful PR program will only complement other facets of marketing and vice-versa. If you are building out other areas of marketing with the purpose of driving marketing-specific KPIs back to the business (like CPM, unique site visits, or expanding your database of prospective customers), utilize a PR agency to help you boost those efforts.
  • You want to beef up brand awareness and recognition: If your company is small and nimble, but simply unknown, it could be a good time to invest in a PR agency to help change that. A PR team will boost your efforts in how you position your product, ensure you’re talking to the right people within the media and analyst communities, and help you write smart content for thought leadership.
  • You’re not reaching the right people from a sales perspective: Account-based marketing is white hot at the moment, which means targeted marketing campaigns for specific (and often unique) verticals or customers. Your sales team needs to be armed with the right collateral to prove to cold leads why you’re valuable and/or how your product will help solve major pain points. PR can not only create the content to support sales enablement, but offer third-party validation for your product, such as unique coverage or customer testimonials and use cases.  

While many PR agencies are willing to work with prospective clients on flexible retainers and scopes of work, it’s important to begin having conversations with agencies as early as possible while you’re thinking about the investment. That way, the agency has (ideally) plenty of time to get onboarded to the people, processes, and product that are unique to your organization so they can execute with exponentially greater success when it’s time for a high-profile project.

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