Tech PR Firm Launches Services for Start-Ups
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Tech PR Firm Launches Services for Start-Ups

Sterling Communications has introduced a set of packaged programs for companies with immediate or short-term public relations objectives. The firm’s “Smart” programs are fixed-price packages of services.

Paul Holmes

SAN JOSE, October 29—A little more than a year ago, there were technology public relations firms that would force prospective clients to audition before they deigned to add them to their roster. Some firms bragged of taking on only one client for every 20 that sought their services. But in the current economic climate 12 months can seem like a lifetime, and now technology PR firms are adding new services targeting start-ups with budgets that would have seemed inconsequential when the tech boom was at its peak.
Sterling Communications, for example, has introduced a set of packaged programs for companies with immediate or short-term public relations objectives. The firm’s “Smart” programs are fixed-price packages of services designed to be implemented rapidly and produce immediate results. The programs are targeted primarily at technology companies that are not yet ready to enter into a full-time, ongoing relationship with a PR agency.
“There are many technology companies that need to introduce themselves to the market, launch a new product or get their in-house PR program off the ground, but just don’t know how,” says Kevin Pedraja, the firm’s vice president and chief marketing officer. “For whatever reason, it may not make sense for these companies to establish a long-term relationship with a PR agency at this juncture. 
“With our Smart programs, young and early stage companies can take advantage of the expertise and resources of a top-tier high-tech PR agency to meet specific, targeted needs. These programs allow us to serve a market that has been largely ignored.”
It’s an approach that is in keeping with Sterling’s business philosophy. While many technology PR firms have built their business around a single marquee client—a strategy that creates problems when the client decides it needs a full-service global agency—Sterling has long insisted that no client should account for more than 10-15 percent of the firm’s revenues, an approach that avoids devastating account losses and allows for greater account team flexibility. That’s one reason Sterling has been able to avoid layoffs so far this year.
The firm has also been able to diversify in 2001, reducing its dependence on the shaky telecom sector, and is poised to maintain its profitable status in 2001, even though it will fall short of the spectacular 50 percent growth in revenues it experience in 2000.
The new Smart programs can be implemented within a matter of weeks or months. The programs include:
  • PlanSmart, which provides companies with a custom-built, actionable public relations plan that takes into account their overall business objectives and available resources.
  • StartSmart, which provides all the fundamentals necessary for a company to build a successful, ongoing PR effort, including messaging and positioning, PR document creation, contact list development and a
    perception audit.
  • LaunchSmart, an integrated program designed to rapidly and cost-effectively launch a company or product, putting companies in front of the media and analysts that cover their markets.
  • TalkSmart, a joint effort of SCI and Media Mentor/Steve Bennett, offering a media training program designed to help companies maximize their communication opportunities with journalists, editors and industry analysts.
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