You’ve interviewed several PR firms, narrowed it down to the one that best fits your tech startup’s needs, and even signed the contract proposal officially hiring the tech PR firm that will help you grow your startup’s brand awareness and demand generation in 2021.
The hard part’s over, right? Not so fast. Now it’s time to onboard your chosen PR firm.
In order to make the most of the relationship between your team and your partner tech PR firm—and increase the likelihood you’ll obtain the campaign results you’re aiming for— it’s key to prepare for the partnership with a seamless onboarding process.
Here are the best steps to take if you plan to onboard a PR firm at your tech startup in 2021.
Define and prioritize PR goals
When you were going through the process of hiring a top tech PR firm for your startup, you should’ve already gotten to know the PR firm that you ultimately hired. Initial conversations with the PR firm likely included high-level objectives and even a proposed strategy based on the outlined goals.
Now that you’ve officially hired them, the onboarding process should begin with a kick off meeting to clearly define and prioritize those goals. Use this time to underscore your primary PR goals—whether that’s an increase in share of voice, generating more leads, or establishing your tech startup as an industry leader—and formalize your PR strategy for 2021. The key to success is to make sure the PR strategy aligns with the overall marketing goals.
You should also use this time to flesh out your PR budget. While your PR firm will handle the media-related tasks, they also may use third party tools to help them with media outreach, tracking, and distribution. It’s important to determine the costs of these tools in relation to the goals and planned campaigns so you can factor that into the PR budget. For example, in order to determine how many news releases will go out on the wire service, it’s essential to have an idea of how many campaigns will require releases.
Your initial PR strategy meeting should include a conversation around short-term and long-term business goals, product roadmaps, campaign expectations, a timeline of in-person and virtual events, and tasks assigned to each party. Both teams should leave the meeting with a solid understanding of the big picture as well as immediate next steps.
Figure out logistics
Sometime at the beginning of the onboarding process, whether during the initial kick off meeting or through early email conversations, your team and your tech PR firm should get on the same page about the details of your working relationship. This includes communication style and frequency, understanding who is responsible for which tasks, and even the invoicing process.
Don’t overlook the small details like who the main point of contact is for each team and how often you will communicate. Swyft recommends weekly meetings in the first month and bi-weekly ones in subsequent months of the engagement. Also important in the age of COVID-19– determine if the best way to communicate is by phone or video. In the current work-from-home world we live in, many are suffering from video call fatigue so take the time to figure out what will work best to maximize productivity.
Speaking of, make sure you ask your new tech PR firm partner to create a detailed agenda to stay on track during your calls.
Establishing these details right out of the gate will limit the possibility of important updates, questions, or ideas getting lost as a result of miscommunication. The basis of any strong relationship is communication, so figuring this out at the beginning of your partnership with a tech PR firm is key.
Establish measurement methodology
Before your tech PR firm can execute any type of media campaign for your tech startup, it’s crucial to have an agreed upon method for measuring the campaign results. Determining this during the onboarding process will give both teams clear expectations going into each campaign.
If you’re working with a data-driven tech PR firm, they likely already have a proven method for measuring results. If this is the case, then it’s important for your tech startup team to understand exactly how they approach this method and ask questions to get clarity on anything you’re unsure about. On the flipside, if there are certain measurements your team tracks internally, let your PR team know so they can have a more complete perspective going into the campaign.
Execute and evaluate first project
Now that you and your partner tech PR firm are on the same page as far as strategy and communication methods, it’s time to execute the first project. Even though there’s already a certain level of trust between you and your new tech PR firm, given that you’ve vetted them and have chosen to work with them for their skills and experience, the first project can really shine a light on their ability to execute a successful campaign. It can also bring to the surface things that could improve the working relationship going forward.
Once the first deliverable is complete, both you and your tech PR firm should have deeper insight into how the partnership is faring. Make a plan to discuss the initial project—the results, what went well, and anything that could’ve made the process more seamless. You should consider your tech PR firm a partner who can support ongoing work, so having this conversation early on will set the partnership up for success.