My real background -- what I did for a living for a decade before I started my first company -- was journalism. And then my first company was pretty tied to the news; it operated inside a TV station so I worked in that environment every day for five years.
So the whole notion of PR is second nature to me.
Anyone who's read any of this blog could probably figure out where I stand on the notion of hiring a PR agency. But it didn't really occur to be to write about it here until I saw this post in Guy Kawasaki's blog:
Nobody knows if Charlemagne could read because an advisor always read aloud for him. It was considered humbling for the king to do anything himself. The same fears drive the most captivating, articulate entrepreneurs to hire publicists. Who wants to risk looking like a fool? As a result, hardly anyone in technology ever tries to talk to a journalist by herself—except Guy, of course.
The writer, Glenn Kelman, goes on to give 10 reasons that you should not hire a PR agency. I have plenty of friends in PR, and I even help in a small way with the PRJobsList here in Denver.
That said, I have to tell you that if my current company gets to $100M in sales, we still won't hire an agency.
Why? The few shining examples in which agencies do a good job are outweighed by the 90 percent that do a job that could easily be done in-house, or the 5 percent that make things worse. This campaign that seems to be in favor of the Unabomber is the latest in a long line of examples.
So read that list, every one of his 10 points is exactly right. Nothing bummed me out as a reporter more than doing a story that was doing the bidding of a flak. Make a reporter's day, and just give him or her a call. You'll both love it.