Fred Wilson says: save money by hiring a blog evangelist

by Jason Preston on March 10, 2008

Last week Jason Calacanis wrote a list of about 20 ways that startups can save money. It’s a good list with a lot of sensible advice.

Fred Wilson also went through the post, and added his thoughts to several of Jason’s points. I couldn’t agree more with Fred on this one:

Really think about if you need that $15,000 a month PR firm. – There are some really good PR firms out there and if you can get one of them to work with your company, then it may be worth considering it. But a mediocre PR firm is not worth it for sure. I encourage our portfolio companies to hire a person inside the company to be an “evangelist”. That job includes blogging actively, reading and commenting and linking to other blogs, reaching out to the media and industry analysts and gurus, going to conferences and events, and generally getting the word out. That person can be young and not particularly expensive, certainly nowhere near $15,000 a month. And they have two things that a PR firm cannot offer. They work for you and they represent your company exclusively.

I am consistently surprised when startups choose to forgo blogging as a PR strategy. A startup environment lends itself so well to blogging, and no other approach packs as much bang for the buck.

Fred is absolutely right that having a dedicated, energetic blogging evangelist will go a lot farther than a monthly contract with most PR firms. It will help create personal relationships between your company and your customers, give you an authoritative, authentic outlet for new information, and can create opportunities for feedback and community involvement that surveys and focus groups will never provide.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rich Young 03.11.08 at 5:39 am

Jason,

Let’s not summarily dismiss the value of a PR firm to startups. You write: “Fred is absolutely right that having a dedicated, energetic blogging evangelist will go a lot farther than a monthly contract with a most PR firms.” Oh really?

Wonder if that “young and inexpensive” blogging evangelist has the depth and breadth of experience as a MSM evangelist in an agency. Or, I wonder if that blogging evangelist has ever lead his/her CEO on a four day media tour followed up by a three day analyst tour? Or, I’m curious if that “young and inexpensive” blogging evangelist can apply the knowledge and experiences he/she learned in that last boom eight years ago to today’s media world?

So just be careful about dismissing the value an agency can deliver when executing on a startup’s blogging relations strategy. We have the bank of knowledge, understanding of the tech landscape (i.e. seeing the forest through the trees rather than “just working for you”) and a library of experience that a “young and inexpensive” blogging evangelist is working towards.

And what’s to say a “young and inexpensive” blogging evangelist can do it right…?

Rich

2 Jason Preston 03.11.08 at 2:08 pm

@Rich – I’ve got a few points to clear up:

First, thanks for pointing out my typo! I’ve fixed it ;)

Next, I want to be clear in saying that traditional PR services are still useful—of course they are—you’re spot on with the MSM outreach, media tour experience, perspective and resources that a PR company can bring into the equation.

But I think the smart way for a startup on a budget to hire a PR firm for their services is to hire them for a specific project, not to have a monthly contract.

Also, I never claimed a blogger has to be young. Fred says they *can* be young and not particularly expensive, and I do think they *can* be, but they don’t have to be. You could hire an evangelist who had lived and worked through the past eight years if that was a concern for you.

Finally, I don’t think that using a PR firm is generally the best way to engage with bloggers. The best way to engage with bloggers is to be a blogger. Which also happens to be the cheapest way to engage with bloggers (making it a good money-saving strategy).

3 David Toldstein 03.13.08 at 7:18 pm

sounds good, where do I find one to hire?

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