Vet your PR firm. Please.

For most of my nearly 10 years as a professional journalist, I have written about young companies and, more specifically, tech startups.

It wasn’t that long after I began doing so that I developed an appreciation for the hard work that it takes to build a new company.

While you spend most of your energy on building a success, external factors team up to push against you.

One of those factors can be a public relations company that doesn’t know how to pitch a reporter.

When I was a tech reporter at the Des Moines Register, I often received pitches from businesses that were nowhere near me.

There is a 0-percent chance that a software company in Wyoming, no matter how compelling a story, will receive coverage from a reporter in Des Moines, Iowa.

The “local connection” on those pitches usually went something like this:

“Hi, we have this company who we know your readers would love to learn about.”

“Where is this company from? I’m in Des Moines, Iowa.”

“Wyoming.”

“Why would my readers ‘love to learn about’ a Wyoming startup?”

“Well, I’m glad you asked. This company is a water-filtration startup (Side note: industry doesn’t matter but it’s an example) and the people in Iowa drink water, right?”

CLICK.

That’s a dramatization. I sometimes thanked them for the pitch before rejecting and hanging up on them.

But this invariably made me wonder how this Wyoming startup chose this particular PR firm.

Were they promised their name would get in front of reporters in exotic Des Moines, Iowa?

Now, those who know me understand my angle here.

I respect a good number of public relations professionals who do it right.

But, like any industry, there are also those who do not. DM me if you want advice about how to pitch a reporter. I’m more than happy to chat.

The point here is to make sure you vet your public relations firm before you hire them.

What past successes have they had? What clients can they point you to as an example of what to expect? Are those clients similar to you in any way, whether by industry, stage of company or employee makeup?

Basically, just do your homework.

I’m always here to chat, as well.

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