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PR for an early-stage company: When do you need it?

Deanna Pogorelc

Certainly you want to get the word out about your new healthcare business, so that potential investors and customers know who you are, but exactly how much publicity do you need for an early-stage company? Internet entrepreneur and former Digg CEO Jay Adelson recommends that startups don’t spend any money with a public relations agency, at least in the beginning, unless some kind of controversy happens and help is needed with crisis management.

Aggressive efforts from a PR company can sometimes lead to press coverage that comes before a company can deliver on what the coverage talks about, thus setting a standard that could lead to a negative story later if your business doesn't accomplish what you said you would, Adelson says in this video from his “Ask Jay” series on entrepreneurship.

If your idea is truly a good one that’s relevant to your industry, you should catch the attention of medical business news trade publications without having to do anything extra -- by just being what you are as well as leveraging relationships with customers or partners. But it’s smart to prepare one or two sentences that really define the company’s position and make sure everyone in the company knows them. Then, as the business grows and starts to receive more attention, the public will hear everyone in the company repeating the same message. Preparing and constantly updating an in-house FAQ sheet will also help you anticipate and answer questions from the media.

If you do want to be more proactive by using a PR agency, wait until you achieve some milestones and have accomplishments to talk about, Adelson advises.

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