As a start-up, I have a single line item on my marketing budget: PR. Surprised? Here's a little insight into my madness.

PR gets a bad rap. To many corporations and businesses, PR's role is undefined: a support function, not quantifiable in terms of ROI, just another line item in a rich marketing budget.

Things have gotten so bad that the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) is currently undertaking a "redefinition" of PR. (I'm not kidding.) The results will be announced in early 2012. It's probably safe to say that most of us are not waiting with bated breath.

Having left a big corporate job to build a start-up, I dream of one day building a budget from the bottom up, with multiple line items. But at this point, my focus has been on building the product, developing a business--with two markets and 80-plus partners--and motivating my partners and stakeholders.

That's why my marketing budget has only one line item. Here are three simple reasons why I chose PR.

PR Builds Brand

This is notable for two reasons.

  • As consumers we look to media to help define what's new, what's cool, and what's important. We've gotten editorial coverage in publications like TechCrunch, Vogue and Details, which can catapult and define a brand.
  • As a young entrepreneur, I ultimately don't know what business I am going to be in. I have created a product and proven a concept, but time and consumer demand will be the ultimate judges. My goal is to create a strong brand that resonates with a customer and instills affinity and loyalty. PR helps to do that. 

PR Generates Awareness (Fast)

I strongly believe in building a brand via brand loyalists. Get people in the door and have them try your product: If they love your product, they'll tell their friends and you build a groundswell. But this strategy takes time. PR allows you to spread the word quickly. It creates widespread awareness and builds a list. The rest is up to you.

PR Isn't Just Press Anymore

Historically, great PR resulted in media coverage across traditional mediums (print, TV, radio). Today, PR focuses not only on traditional mediums, but also on the Internet—where everyone has a voice, where media coverage can spread. From print and online media to personal blogs and social media pages, there is no longer a single press hit.

Fingers crossed that 2012 brings a bigger marketing budget for me—and a great re-definition for the PRSA.