How do PR agencies find customers

PR agency for founders and start-ups: You should pay attention to this when making your selection

Quick start: Our 3 recommendations for your start

If you are currently setting up your PR professionally, we recommend our guidelines for press work, our free template for your press release and our tips for creating your social media strategy.

Awareness & more: A PR agency will help you with this

Goals that probably all founders, start-ups and larger companies have in common: higher brand awareness and a good image. After all, these are not insignificant factors when it comes to selling a product or service in the end.

If you think of public relations (PR for short) or public relations work, you often quickly have classic press work in mind: Finding topics, writing press releases / invitations, creating press kits, coordinating press events, creating a press distribution list or creating clippings.

A PR agency usually does more than just press work. You can take advantage of all topics related to image building and image cultivation as well as building trust with stakeholders from a PR agency. This also includes, for example, the following services:

  • Advice on all communication tasks
  • Creation of strategic PR and social media concepts
  • Development of concepts for storytelling
  • Definition of stakeholders and assistance with target group-oriented communication
  • Content creation in all areas
  • Supervision of the social media channels
  • Assistance with employee communication (e.g. employee magazine or training)
  • Support with employer branding (e.g. website advice or trade fairs)
  • Maintenance of online relations, for example in the form of a newsletter
  • Advice on CSR communication (social responsibility) or financial communication
  • Preparation and implementation of trade fairs and events
  • Supervision of measures that include sponsoring
  • Support in matters of crisis communication

Nowadays, many agencies also combine marketing and PR or even offer the creation of interactive or video content. A PR agency can also help with media planning or topics such as search engine optimization. Here, however - depending on the scope - you should consider turning to different specialists.

How to find a good PR agency in 5 steps

Not every PR agency is suitable for start-ups and founders. Not every PR agency is suitable for your industry. And not every PR agency is suitable for you. So how do you find the right PR agency?

Step 1: Define goals, scope of work and budget

What do you need a PR agency for? What exactly should it do? How can you achieve your communication goals in the short and long term through a PR agency? How much budget do you have available?

Questions like these, which determine goals, scope of work and budget, should first be clarified internally before you start looking for a PR agency. On the one hand, you can determine whether a PR agency is profitable for you at all. If you have a particularly large number of items and recurring things in corporate communications on the agenda, it might also be worthwhile to recruit your own employee for your company. If it is more about a few, smaller or one-off tasks, it could be worth working with a freelance PR consultant. So first check whether a PR agency is what you are really looking for.

Step 2: Get an overview

There are many PR agencies. It is not easy to get an overview, especially in larger cities such as Berlin, Munich, Hamburg or Cologne. When researching, you should consider the following aspects in particular:

  • How important is it that the PR agency is based in my city?
  • How important is it that the PR agency specializes in my industry?
  • How important is it that the PR agency is an expert with a view to the measure (e.g. press work)?

If in doubt, prioritize which aspect is predominant. Is a PR agency in Berlin that specializes in crisis communication for start-ups more helpful than a general PR agency in your city? Probably yes, if you really have a business crisis to deal with. Are you just at the beginning and need an all-round approach, from the concept to the measures, where it is important to brainstorm together from time to time? Then the aspect of local residency will probably predominate - because travel costs should also be taken into account in the budget planning mentioned in step 1.

So put together a rough selection (max. 5-10) of the agencies that could even be considered for you.

Step 3: Read references, case studies, and reviews

Find out which cases / projects / companies the respective PR agency has already handled and make a note of which PR agency has a particularly high number of overlaps with your project or which suits you best. Do not be blinded by awards or certificates, but question them. Awards are usually hard earned, but in the end they are not necessarily decisive for the creativity and performance of the company.

Step 4: Get in touch with the agencies

Call PR agency for PR agency and ask in general whether the projects you have proposed would be exciting for the respective PR agency. After all, they are usually always on the lookout for new customers, but must also have the corresponding capacities free at the given time.

The first impression counts: At this point, one or the other PR agency is sure to be crossed off your list. With the remaining agencies, you should go straight to step 5.

Step 5: get to know the PR agency

Arrange a meeting. After all, you will also exchange internal information with your PR agency and the interpersonal component must be right for a trustworthy topic. A visit to the agency, where you can also get to know the employees and gain an insight into the work culture, can be particularly useful if you are aiming for a long-term collaboration. Which PR agency is really suitable for you in the end is of course not only decided by the budget, but also to a certain extent by your gut feeling.

Examples of PR agencies with a start-up focus

As described, the start-up focus of a PR agency can be a plus in some cases, but not in others. The following PR agencies are examples of agencies that have specialized in founders and start-ups. For example, we at Für-Grü were approached very often and professionally by these PR agencies when they wanted to accommodate topics for their customers.

Mashup CommunicationsBerlinPR agency with a focus on storytelling, among otherse.g. Billomat, various start-ups from the Center for Entrepreneurship
PiaboBerlinPR agency with a focus on social media, among otherse.g. Tinder, Lieferando, Wunderlist
Whispers of styleHamburgPR agency with a focus on strategy and cooperation managemente.g. Just Spices, Juniqe, Amorelie
factumMunichPR agency with a focus on press work, among other thingse.g. Protami, My Grandma
Startup CommunicationMunichPR agency with a focus on influencer relations, among other thingse.g. Science4Life, Bilendo, Private Gin

Excursus: Let PR agencies pitch - yes or no?

A pitch between different agencies for a new client is not uncommon. All agencies receive the same briefing and then introduce themselves to you. You have no costs or only a low pitch fee and can then choose the PR agency with the best ideas for your project. As a founder and start-up, however, you should know that this is only common for larger projects. Therefore, always combine the effort for the pitch with the associated budget. Check it:

  • Does the later budget justify the effort?
  • Can I offer a pitch fee?
  • Can I contribute a comprehensive briefing? (Previous knowledge is also required for this!)

If all these criteria are met, you can consider inviting your favorite agencies to pitch. Think of a limited number of participants and make the order placement transparent.

PR agency: advantages and disadvantages at a glance

The advantages of a PR agency are obvious:

  • a lot of expertise and experience
  • long-term contacts
  • high professionalism
  • a breath of fresh air and a new perspective on projects

On the contra side, there are these points:

  • mostly high costs
  • Time spent on briefings
  • lack of expertise
  • no insight into the overall strategy

In the end, no one can make the decision for or against a PR agency for you. Ultimately, it depends on your specific case whether a PR agency is worthwhile for you or not. So always weigh the time and cost factors against the achievement of goals. Let's take the example of press work. In general, journalists are not always open to agencies. However, it can be different with specialist journalists, whom you can reach very easily via the network of a PR agency. If you want to build up professional press work in the long term, it is again worthwhile to hire someone of your own to establish these contacts independently.

In other cases, such as crisis communication or event management, in which sometimes not just one employee is enough, the facts of time and costs can be in a completely different relationship and the contacts of the PR agency can be very decisive.

PR consultant or PR agency: what are the differences and the advantages and disadvantages?

First of all: every PR agency lives from PR consultants who are employed there. In general, a freelance PR consultant fulfills the same tasks that a PR consultant does in an agency. So what are the differences?

Of course, a single PR consultant cannot handle as many assignments as a PR agency. The capacity factor is therefore one of the main aspects that speaks for or against a PR consultant. The network and the portfolio bandwidth can also be decisive. After all, many PR consultants tend to have a larger network and more knowledge than a single PR consultant.

On the other hand, a PR consultant doesn't have to pay for the budget of an entire agency. A freelance PR consultant can therefore offer significantly cheaper services than a PR agency. As a rule, the hourly wage here is between 40 and 90 euros. For a strategic concept, for example, the hourly rates can be higher than for pure text work. At a PR agency, the hourly rates usually only start at 100 euros.

For start-ups, a PR consultant can be a good start-up aid as well as for temporary bottlenecks or individual projects or texts. If you want to build up professional public relations work on a permanent basis, the price quickly reaches the limit above which it is worthwhile to hire your own employee. A PR agency in comparison is worthwhile from a purely financial point of view, especially for somewhat larger projects.

Conclusion: PR agency for founders and start-ups

A PR agency does more than just classic press work. A PR agency for founders and start-ups can be recommended, especially for strategic questions about communication, content creation and network maintenance, image building or events.

When making a selection, you should first clarify goals, services and budget in order to find out whether a PR agency is also what you are really looking for for your public relations work. Further aspects are, for example, the local location, industry focus and the thematic focus of the PR agency. References and case studies can help reduce the number of agencies selected. In the end, however, it is advisable to contact us personally.

The main advantages of a PR agency are its expertise, network and high level of professionalism. On the other hand, there are high costs and the time required for briefings. So always weigh up whether a PR agency is really the right one for your project - maybe your own employee or a freelance PR consultant is also suitable )?

Author: Für-Grü editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Grü for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Grü, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.