Looking through the feeds this morning, there was a post that immediately stood out - VC Jason Mendelson writing on "Why AtomicPR Sucks Ass. And How They Are Breaking the Law, Too." Ouch.
Mendelson's complaint pertains to the "carpet bombing strategies" he says he's seeing more and more of from PR firms.
While hiring a PR firm to get the word out can be an important next step for a startup, it's apparent that it cannot be the final step. If all that PR firm is doing is spreading the word, indiscriminately and without regard for who might actually be interested in hearing about your startup, then it may hurt, not help, your brand. As Mendelson writes, when he informed a fellow VC that the firm he's taking issue with had been using this tactic for one of his own investments, that VC was "none too happy".
Remember that allowing a PR firm to run free with your brand is essentially allowing it to have control over how your startup comes off to the rest of the world. There can be a fine line between persistence and spamming and, as the eyes on the other end of that email, we would caution any startup from crossing that line.
Rather than email bombing popular blogs in hopes of standing above the thousands of other emails they receive daily, you might indirectly target reporters, by getting featured in smaller publications before reaching out to the big boys. Another method that can be particularly effective is to get the word out by leaving comments about your company on blog posts about related topics, which, believe it or not, can be done without being spammy.
While this may all seem like a warning to PR firms, it is not - it is a reminder to know your PR people before you hand over the keys to the castle and make sure your PR firm doesn't need it's own PR firm. The last thing you want is to start having the PR firm you've hired get called out by members of the VC community for spamming them and ignoring requests to end the emails.