Charting the future of public relations
First comes seed, then comes PR?
Aarti Shah
Holmes Report
COO & Senior Editor

First comes seed, then comes PR?

Aarti Shah

The proliferation of seed funding is pushing startups towards PR earlier in their development cycle -- bucking an assumption that very early stage companies aren’t yet groomed -- or funded -- for PR support. “In today’s market, everyone is trying for these million-dollar seed rounds. And they want to maximize their traction before they go for more money because they want to keep their equity,” says Vijay Chattha, president of VSC Consulting. Alan Soucy, CEO of Spark PR, agrees but says most of the seed CEOs that are handed budgets large enough to support PR are serial entrepreneurs with an established track record. “I think the stage at which PR is coming into the picture is earlier and earlier,” Soucy says. But for Spark, the very early stage companies are mostly serviced through the agency’s VC clients, like Greylock Partners and New World Ventures. In fact, this turn can be traced to the number of communicators that have been brought into VCs at the highest levels: Margit Wennmachers at Andreessen Horowitz and Christina Lee at Kleiner Perkins, among others. Of course, these PR heavyweights are -- in part --  brought on to make the VCs attractive to entrepreneurs with the most coveted  startups. But once the firm’s standing has been cemented, for instance like status Andreessen Horowitz enjoys today, the focus shifts to advising the portfolio companies, many of which are seed ventures. “[Seed companies] take marketing very seriously,” Wennmachers says. “Marketing is now a first-class citizen in Silicon Valley.”
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