By: David Splivalo
In 2005 the CEO of Iowa based Palisade Systems, Kurt Shedenhelm, was lead to Silicon Valley following a careful analysis of local PR talent and agencies. Palisade was entering a new market, called Data Loss & Prevention or DLP and needed to position itself as one of the industry leaders. None of the local talent had any meaningful relationships with high-tech press and their rolodex of results for high-tech firms, both startups and established brands, was little to none. Shedenhelm traveled to the Valley in 2005 where I would later serve as his account manager for an agency he decided to contract the work to. What Shedenhelm wanted was the “Wow” factor and felt that the Silicon Valley PR firm I worked for at the time would deliver those types of results.
After less than a year working on Palisade’s account, my boss at the time encouraged me to open my own PR practice, where Palisade would eventually follow me and become one of my first clients. But why did Palisade decide to follow me? It was mainly due to the consistent results I was achieving and the need for a high-tech PR agency (or practitioner) to be serving it (Palisade). Prior to my start, Palisade’s prior PR program, to put it politely, was treading water. From 2002 to 2004, Palisade secured just 19 stories, with most of those articles just being mentions of the company.
From 2005 to 2008 (under Freestyle’s direction), Palisade’s media relations results skyrocketed, boasting over 120 stories (with over half being standalone feature stories on the Iowa startup). My firm also resurrected Palisade’s analyst relations program (which to this day Freestyle is still the only PR agency to offer services in Silicon Prairie), speaking and awards program, government relations program and finally its editorial program. All these programs are considered components of a full-service PR program. The work was so good that Palisade was included as the lead for some of the first industry stories to acknowledge the new DLP market space.
Silicon Prairie needs to understand that if it wants its startup community to grow and flourish that it needs to find outside PR help. Using local talent alone isn’t going to cut it unless they’ve been immersed in a high-tech PR setting for several years. One of the most critical failures of startups is PR and marketing, and this is because it’s the one piece of the puzzle the founders (and sometimes the investors) don’t have experience in. Companies like Dwolla, Alliance Technologies, Caleris, ISU Research Park and many other Silicon Prairie tech brands have turned to my firm to help them correctly and strategically publicize their brand to their target audiences.
Yes, this blog may come across as very promotional, but what would you rather have me say? That Silicon Prairie has better PR folks than Silicon Valley? That local PR practitioners have a better rolodex and history of working with startups to correctly market and publicize their brand, product line and service offerings than compared to their counterparts in the Valley? It’s time for Silicon Prairie startups to wake up to the realization that if they truly want a stellar marcom program then they have to consider outsourcing that specialty to experts that have a successful history of securing the “Wow” factor in multiple markets.`
Disclaimer: Freestyle PR is a shareholder of Palisade Systems, Inc.