You’ve no doubt heard of the benefits of being able to share your company or organization's story. People like narratives, and as you build your business and pass milestones, people will want to learn more about you.
Having a lack of narrative means that others will fill in that narrative, so owning your own story is crucial. Good public relations can help you by having a compelling, understandable story. PR practitioners—if they’re good at what they do—will be able to communicate your message in a way that people can understand and that makes them want to listen. That includes investors, potential hires, and customers.
The PR industry is split into two camps: in-house PR and outside PR agencies. A PR agency is an outside company that you hire to manage PR for you. In-house PR refers to handling your PR needs within your own company by retaining on-staff communications professionals. There’s no obvious answer to the question of which is better for you. However, there are a few things worth bearing in mind.
Keeping things in-house can be cheaper in the long run. If you are managing your own PR, or you have a dedicated staff that you can manage, it's likely to cost you less than hiring a larger outside firm.
What you may miss out on in experience, you make up for in enthusiasm. The person running your PR internally might not be an experienced agency veteran, but they can have an advantage: they believe wholeheartedly in whatever it is you deliver. That enthusiasm, if channeled properly, can be a great addition.
You’re a startup, so you may still be developing your key messages. This swings both ways, because a good PR agency can help you arrive at a really good way to communicate what you or your product does. But because your ideas change and because what you want to stress about your company or product can change, it can be nice to have someone in-house, on the ground, who is keeping up with this evolution in real time.
Don't rush into a relationship with an outside PR agency because you think you need it or think it will legitimize you. As with every other decision you’re going to make for your company, weigh the options carefully and make the choice that is appropriate for you and your stage of development.