Five Reasons Smart Investment Funds Utilise PR (1)

Insider Insights: Is my startup ready to hire a PR firm?

From Africa to Latin America, the startup scenes in emerging markets are bustling with activity. Venture capital investing in emerging markets rose to $27.4 billion in 2019 compared to $12.6 billion in 2014. This surge in activity reflects the increasing number of startups vying for attention as each firm seeks to stand out as a market leader. As opposed to marketing which drives sales, Public Relations (PR) can help firms achieve this visibility. Here are some things you should know about why and when to hire professional PR services:

How does PR work?

PR refers to the relationship between a company and its core audiences such as partners, investors, and potential employees. PR firms typically help clients build these critical relationships around a key company narrative that speaks to the firm’s mission, solution, team, and identity. The narrative needs to be a strong, coherent, and easily understood story about the firm. It is typically short, memorable, and concrete whilst speaking to the company’s mission.

PR broadly addresses perception through efforts to get your company in the news organically, crafting and spreading your brand narrative through original content, and positioning your company as a thought leader in your sector. Data, market insights, and traction in terms of market scale or fundraising are great tools for PR outreach and engagement with target audiences. They help create clear messaging, solid brand positioning and enable convincing campaigns.

Why startups struggle with professional PR

It is common for startups to be run as tight ships with limited resources and small teams focused on product development, marketing, and fundraising. A concerted PR effort often falls outside of the scope of a startup’s team and often falls on founders who represent the company at conference events and in the media. When startups that are pre-seed or struggling to find product-market fit hire PR firms, they are often hard-pressed to participate in the activities that define their relationship with their audiences and are thereby unable to fully absorb the value of the professional PR services.

When is it time for professional PR?

In our experience at Insider, PR-ready startups often come to us at these stages:

  • Their product is in the market and they need to establish brand authority
  • They are fundraising and looking to increase their visibility to investors
  • They have just fundraised or achieved a significant milestone and want to create a PR buzz around this development in order to maintain momentum
  • They are looking to attract new talent by showcasing their company vision, culture, and people
  • They have entered into a new market and want to establish brand presence and authority

There is a need for a strong narrative, upon which PR is built, during these critical growth stages. When earlier, founders must make time and commit to PR by outsourcing to a credible PR firm active in the space. As the companies grow, founders can add in-house communications capacity supported by a PR firm.

Startups may be unable to absorb the value of professional PR if:

  • They have not yet even raised a pre-seed round
  • Founders or top executives cannot dedicate at least two hours a week
  • The startup does not have clear PR objectives
  • The startup has limited market traction and is still in pilot phase

Another prerequisite for successful PR is that startups have to be willing to invest in a long-term commitment. We usually advise a minimum six-month contract to generate momentum since sustained PR that creates impact goes beyond distributing one press release. Developing a startup’s brand identity and market credibility is not the result of one press release or one article and does not happen overnight.

How to lay the foundations for professional PR

Even when a startup is not ready to invest in professional PR, it can and should lay the groundwork for a PR strategy. It is important for a startup to deploy the tools at its disposal including using social media for thought leadership and developing a brand narrative. Startups and founders can share educational and interactive brand content and also be a part of industry conversations either via Twitter Spaces, ClubHouse, or using hashtags, for example.

Company blogs are also useful to share progress reports and spotlight a startup’s people, products, and processes.

It is critical for startups considering PR services to evaluate their position and consult with potential PR partners on their readiness. With a compelling narrative to share with the world and the budget and time to commit to a campaign, startups should hire specialized PR firms to help accomplish their strategic goals.


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Afrae Tatari​

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Afrae is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Social Media Specialist. She holds a bachelor's degree in International Trade and Management from Istanbul Sehir University in Turkey and is certified in Search Engine Optimization, Inbound Marketing, and Content Marketing.

Temi Faseyide

Account Associate

Temi is a creative storyteller who is adept at understanding and refining the business story in order to communicate effectively to the targeted audiences. She has over four years of experience working in communications and earned a Post Graduate Degree in Public Relations & Communications from the University of Lagos, Nigeria.

Camila Canney

Latin American Associate

Camila is a marketing specialist with experience in communication strategies, advertising campaigns, and brand positioning for companies across multiple industries. She has participated in the startup ecosystem in Colombia and collaborated in digital transformation projects.

Gustavo Orozco

Latin America Director

Gustavo has served as an advisor to several Colombian presidential candidates and international firms regarding public relations issues and brand positioning in media outlets. He is a frequent collaborator with Colombian news organizations

John Nikolaou

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John is the founder of natural resource research and advisory firm with experience operating in several African markets. He has previous experience in US energy sector and natural resource policy.
John holds a BA in Government and Natural Resource Management from Claremont McKenna College.

Wole Olayinka

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Wole is an Account Manager at insiderPR. He has spent the last five years supporting communications and delivering engaging content for African businesses and entrepreneurs. His writings on technology in Africa have appeared in NextBillion, African Arguments, Business Day Nigeria, TechCabal, AllAfrica and Magnitt.
Wole holds a Bachelor of Laws from Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria.

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Adjoa has worked across different roles in the financial services sector in Ghana, including marketing, technology and customer service, developing a broad outlook on doing business in West Africa.
Adjoa holds a BSC in Management Information Systems from Ashesi University, and an MSC in International Business from Hult International Business School

Olga Balangala


Olga is an Associate at insiderPR. She has 8 years combined experience in events, TV/Film/Radio production, marketing and research across different industries. She is an award winner and Tropics Magazine Top 500 African-Doer. Olga holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Johannesburg majoring in Sociology, Strategic Communication and Information Management.

Nosike Nwigene

Digital Communications Manager

Nosike is a Communications and Digital marketing professional interested in media, Africa's tech ecosystem, innovation policy and the intersections. He has experience providing advisory and executing social media and content programs for over 25 tech ecosystem actors in emerging markets. Nosike holds a BSc in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Abuja.

Rebekah Clark


Rebekah is Director at insiderPR. Rebekah is a communications specialist with an international career which has seen her tell a wide-range of captivating stories to diverse audiences. Her mission is to support clients as they create positive and meaningful dialogue, whilst inspiring and informing audiences. Based in London, Rebekah works with Governments, NGOs, and brands, to deliver effective strategy, campaigns, purpose-driven activities, media, and events. She holds a BA Honours in Communication & Sociology from the University of Liverpool, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

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Thelma is an Account Manager at insiderPR. She is also a planning, research, and evaluation specialist, and much of her research explores innovative business models for inclusive growth through entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan africa. Thelma supports several international donor organisations, and government agencies in gathering evidence to inform decision making, and conducts rigorous results-based evaluations to measure the impact of their work. She is a Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA). Thelma holds a BA in Economics from the University of British Columbia, and an Mphil in Development Studies from Cambridge University.

Eliot Pence


Eliot is the Executive Director of the US-Nigeria Council, advises investors on market entry & private expansion strategies in Africa. He has written extensively on doing business in frontier markets in the FT, New York Times, Reuters & CNN. He is a board member of the African Leadership Network, an Aspen Scholar, & CFR Term member.
Eliot holds an MA from Yale University.

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Aubrey Hruby


Aubrey is an advisor to Fortune 500 companies & investors doing business in Africa. She is a contributor to the Financial Times, NPR, & Axios and the award-winning author of ‘The Next Africa’. She also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, Council on Foreign Relations & a Milken Young Leader.
Aubrey holds an MBA from Wharton & MA from Georgetown.