What’s Truly Working For SaaS PR In 2023 … And What Is not

One of many high minds in B2B PR I’ve labored with is Ed Zitron.  We’ve had him at SaaStr Annual and SaaStr a number of instances over time, and we’ve labored collectively on over a dozen on my SaaStr Fund portfolio firms.  I requested him to place collectively a primer on simply what PR actually is .. in 2023.  Jason – ed.

Again when Jason wrote his SaaS founders’ information to PR, he put out some of the tangible and pragmatic guides to what makes hiring a PR agency actually price it. Public Relations shouldn’t be a monolith, it isn’t black magic, it isn’t one thing that’s meant to be complicated to measure or exhausting to plan for. In a few decade of operating my very own agency – and dealing with Jason and his numerous portfolio firms (in addition to different purchasers, in fact), I’ve seen issues change, but additionally keep remarkably comparable.

What’s Modified In The Final 10 Years?

The Variety of Shops

Again within the day you had CITEWorld, IDG publications have been better-staffed, and there have been considerably extra enterprise reporters than there are right now. Consequently it was simpler for cheaper, crappier companies to spray-and-pray, spamming 100 to 200 reporters without delay and getting mediocre outcomes for you. This has turn into considerably more durable due to A) a a lot smaller media business and B) a a lot bigger quantity of firms elevating capital.

The Tech Press Grew Up

Enterprise and SaaS are not new and thrilling industries that the press are leaping to cowl – they’re mainstays, one of many few secure components of a comparatively chaotic tech business. That being mentioned, having plenty of prospects – and even big-name prospects – isn’t fairly sufficient. You could be prepared to speak income, or have a giant buyer that may really discuss to the press with you – as a result of these people have been burned by taking the phrase of founders previously. That is really an enormous boon for any firm that has actually nice metrics that they’re in a position to again up!

Income Issues

Should you’re pre-revenue, I’d suggest not hiring a PR agency except you’ve raised a funding spherical, and be able to again up no matter you’re saying with an outlined path to making a living. The press has uninterested in pseudo-companies – in the event you can’t show that you simply’re a enterprise, which must be slightly simpler in the event you’re promoting software program, you’ll be sniffed out (or, effectively, ignored). 

Funding Rounds Can’t Simply Be Funding Rounds

Should you’ve raised something lower than $5 million at seed, you’re going to wish to seek out an fascinating angle, and I don’t imply one which kinda sorta sounds good however no one actually cares about. Are you connecting the material of an enormous business, untouched by different firms? Sketch out precisely how huge the market is, and be ready to again it up with impartial metrics.

What Doesn’t Work Anymore (Or Didn’t Work Earlier than)

BS Metrics

Oh you’ve acquired 2 million concurrent periods? You’ve acquired 200,000 “prospects”? They don’t care. No person cares. Should you can’t clarify in plain phrases why a metric issues, don’t use it. Self-importance metrics don’t work both – the quantity of customers you’ve isn’t related in the event you can’t specific why that’s necessary past “it’s good to have extra prospects.” In the event that they aren’t paying, it’s worthwhile to clarify why they’re nonetheless useful. It sucks to confess, however you’re operating a enterprise and pitching enterprise reporters.


Don’t spam a listing of reporters. Don’t do it. Don’t rent an company that spams reporters. It didn’t work effectively earlier than, and it doesn’t work in any respect now. What it does is give your organization a nasty identify. 

Stretching The Reality (Or Straight Up Mendacity)

It feels bizarre to write down this, however don’t make up issues. Don’t embellish stats or partnerships, don’t say a trial is a full buyer, and don’t say {that a} agency invested if one in all their companions invested personally. This stuff all the time come out finally, and once they do it’s by no means nice for anybody concerned. It was that you possibly can be slightly bit obscure and let folks fill within the gaps – I didn’t do that as a result of, effectively, it’s unethical and crappy – however now reporters are absolutely ready to smell BS out and rip you aside for it.


What Labored Earlier than And Nonetheless Works Right this moment

Relationships and Studying

As Jason mentioned, most PR companies (90%) can’t get you high quality outcomes, and the reason being as a result of they don’t have the relationships with reporters. I spend 80% of my time engaged on these relationships, both actively by way of assembly them digitally or in any other case, or studying. I can not clarify sufficient how significant it’s to sit down down and often learn the content material that reporters put out, each on social media and on their respective publications. Wanna be on TechCrunch? Learn goddamn TechCrunch, actually learn it, learn all people’s stuff and perceive their protection. Should you can’t do this, rent a PR agency, and ensure that mentioned agency can eloquently describe the place they’d pitch you and why. 

I’ll offer you an instance: Kelly Soderlund of Navan (one in all my purchasers) is without doubt one of the most gifted PR folks I’ve ever met as a result of she obsessively reads and is aware of about what reporters are as much as, each in what they write and what they’re as much as on social media. She has an enviable rolodex too. How? Studying and assembly with them and never being transactional. 

Being Helpful – And Fascinating

Should you’re educated a few topic and a reporter wants a remark, give them one. Individuals choose up the cellphone for useful folks. 

And in the event you’re requested for one thing, present it shortly. Reply shortly. Be helpful.

There’s additionally actually one thing to be mentioned for having significant commentary on issues that you simply actually perceive. Often founders are both scared to ruffle feathers or approach, approach too firebrand-adjacent – discover your “factor” and actually keep on with it. Jason has performed effectively getting quoted – when he needs to – speaking concerning the state of main enterprise software program firms. He’s a grasp of these things. 

I do warning you to concentrate on once you’re out of your depth. Don’t discuss politics. Don’t get into tradition conflict stuff. Focus in your work, and the world round your work. 

A Actual Firm With Actual Cash (Funding plus Income)

Wanna get press? Earn a living or increase cash. Elevating cash works if backed by a very good story – an fascinating founder with an fascinating background, with “fascinating” which means a narrative that’s completely different to the common “I did my time at (huge firm)” narrative. Funding can nonetheless work with out that – particularly in the event you increase over $10m – and actually, in the event you’re worthwhile and making hundreds of thousands in MRR or tens of hundreds of thousands in ARR, reporters have an interest as a result of a miserable quantity of firms aren’t doing so.

A Easy Downside, Solved

One of many coolest firms I’ve ever labored with was an AI-powered strategic planning firm. They raised a bunch of cash, however the actual magic was that the issue was very a lot the founder’s – he wanted a strategy to really see how far his firm’s cash would go, and what future adjustments to their roadmap would value them (or whether or not mentioned adjustments have been potential). Each single demo he did was thrilling, as a result of he was in a position to present in actual time precisely what the issue was – not understanding whether or not, say, growing headcount by 20 folks could be too nice a burden on the corporate – and the answer, his firm (they’re known as Runway).

To be clear, his demo wasn’t horny. It was, nevertheless, extraordinarily straightforward to know each the issue and the answer. Discover a strategy to clarify the world earlier than you existed and the world that may exist on account of you founding this firm.

And be sincere. Founding an organization sucks. It may be draining. Should you’re fixing an issue since you had a troublesome time, inform them.

And It’s Extra Necessary Than Ever

Social media goes by way of an enormous upheaval because of the continuing battle between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Paid promoting is more durable to transform. Actual, significant press stays a constant ongoing driver of social proof and at instances visitors and enterprise growth that no different channel can actually rival (aside from heat introductions). 

To paraphrase Jason: it’s good for fundraising. It’s good for social proof. It helps construct morale for the crew. And basically, all people needs to work for a winner – and that’s what being within the press frames you as.

A SaaS Founder’s Information to PR

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