This piece from Forbes magazine answers the question why there is such demand for PR from start ups in Silicon Valley:
"In the second quarter of 2006, venture capitalists invested $6.73
billion–5% higher than last year. More than $2.4 billion of that came
from VC firms in the Bay Area, up 13% over last year." So there you have it.
The article also focussed on the recent AlwaysOn conference – essentially a cattle market for start ups looking for VC money. As Forbes says: "Each would-be Sergey Brin or Larry Page had just six minutes each to pitch a roomful of about 100 venture capital investors and potential business partners."
It quoted Woodrow Wilson’s maxim: "If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if an
hour, I am ready now." (This is of course a variation on Mark Twain’s earlier comment to a friend: "I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter, I didn’t have time to write you a shorter one").
So how did these start ups fare?:
Some CEOs in the enterprise and information technology services
categories suffered from audience jargon fatigue. The terms
"recentralized infrastructure," "enablement" and "back-end data
services," lulled the audience. Rick Tinsley, CEO of Silver Peak Systems, even stayed behind his lectern while uttering those words.
you only have six minutes, what VCs really want to know is who you
built your product for and how you’re going to make money," says Tim
Chang, a partner at Gabrial Venture Partners who served as a judge for
11 CEO pitches. At Stanford, a loud beep signaled the passage the first
minute, then the sixth minute.
"Don’t spend your time talking
about your technology and what’s wrong with the world–we already buy
into that and give you the benefit of the doubt."
Chang expressed this sentiment loudly when he asked Ragnar Kruse, CEO of wireless data delivery company Smaato,
"Who cares?" after Kruse finished his pitch. "I really didn’t mean it
flippantly," Chang says. "I just literally wanted to know who their
customer base was."
It made me think that this could be applied to the PR pitch process. What if clients had to give agencies on the pitch list a 6 minute presentation on their business and what they wanted PR to achieve? In turn, agencies would have 6 minutes to pitch back to the client.
If this principle was applied more widely, it would certainly help to focus the minds of both prospect and agency. If a start up looking for potentially millions of dollars of investment can do it, why can’t agencies who, mostly, are talking about tens of thousands?