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PR for Startups: What PR Agencies Won't Tell You

One of the UK’s most respected PR gurus, Andrew Bloch, shares top secret PR tips & tricks for startups.

Andrew Bloch is a UK leading public relations expert with a storied career spanning nearly three decades. As a founder, advisor and investor to some of the UK’s most respected and successful PR and marketing consultancies, Andrew has masterminded successful campaigns for global brands such as Coca-Cola, Disney, Deliveroo, and Burger King. Known for his continued work as Lord Alan Sugar’s advisor, Andrew is recognised as one of Britain’s most influential entrepreneurs and was named Communications and Marketing Consultant of the Year in 2023 at the Global Business Awards. 

Bloch is the non-executive chairman of Stakked, the world's first collective of 'boutech' marketing companies, powered by AI, which includes creative PR agency Munch; social media agency Flabbergast; full-suite digital agency Another Blank Page; and Nibble, a platform that connects brands directly with highly recommended PR freelancers. 

Here we dive into a conversation with Andrew Bloch about PR strategies and tactics for startups, and gain his invaluable insights on maximising the impact of any PR budget.

What are the untold secrets of PR success that startups need to know, but PR agencies often keep under wraps?

PR is critical for any organisation, whether you are a brand, an individual ,  a product, a service, targeting consumers, or a  B2B audience. However, you should only use PR if it can demonstrate a tangible impact on your business. There must always be a call to action, from driving people to your website, generating sales, increasing awareness, or changing perceptions—and the impact must always be measurable. 

If an agency isn't prepared to show you how they measure success, then you shouldn't be working with them.

PR guru startups

To be disruptive, you need to look at how you can get people to talk about your brand and make them sit up and take notice.

Can you share a behind-the-scenes story of a PR campaign for a startup that defied expectations and achieved remarkable results?

One of my favourite behind-the-scenes stories involves a PR campaign for the breast cancer charity Future Dreams. They ran a campaign called "Let's Nail Breast Cancer," encouraging women to get their nails painted pink and make a donation. The charity had limited funds and wanted to raise the campaign's profile. 

We decided to take a more disruptive approach to generate attention. Instead of focusing on women with pink nails, we targeted high-profile male celebrities willing to paint their nails pink instead.

The pinnacle was getting snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan to paint his nails pink during the UK Championships. This unprecedented move generated massive awareness and tons of media coverage, with every broadcaster and commentator covering the event directly asking Ronnie about his pink nails. He was briefed to talk about the charity and direct people to their website for donations. 

Remarkably, this campaign was executed on a zero budget and achieved global media attention, but even more importantly, it raised awareness and much needed funds for the charity.

In your experience, what are the biggest misconceptions that startups have about PR, and how can they overcome them?

The biggest misconception is that PR is unaffordable. The secret is choosing the right agency for your requirements. Sometimes, you don't even need an agency; excellent PR freelancers can deliver just as great results, and many freelancers today have cut their teeth at some of the world’s best agencies and brands, but simply want a different work life balance, or want more flexibility, or even have their own side hustles, so understand the startup life and their demands.

That's where Nibble comes in. Nibble matches startups with pre-screened, best-in-class PR freelancers specifically suited to their specific briefs and perfectly matched with AI.

For anyone that is serious about generating high quality media coverage for their brand, but feels like hiring an agency or an in-house PR is too big of a commitment or too costly for their needs right now, I’d highly recommend considering a freelancer. There’s nothing to lose from having a chat with someone who’s been recommended, or if you don’t know who to ask, posting a brief on Nibble - and seeing where that conversation takes you.

What are some unconventional PR tactics that startups can try to stand out in a crowded market and capture media attention?

When you're a startup, it's extremely important to think about how you can be disruptive. 

You're often up against more established brands and services in your industry that have bigger budgets, and a head start in terms of awareness. 

To be disruptive, you need to look at how you can get people to talk about your brand and make them sit up and take notice. When you achieve this then other people are doing your best marketing for you. 

There are several ways to do this:

  • Look at the conventions of your industry and how things have typically been done before. How can you break these conventions? Consider borrowing tactics from other industries and applying them to yours to do something different. 
  • Capture the zeitgeist by looking at what people are talking about now and what they will be talking about in the future, then insert your brand into that conversation.
  • Really hone in on your USPs. Sometimes startups try to talk about too many things. The key is to find your USP. I like to think of not just unique selling points, but unusual selling points. What's the one unusual thing about your product, brand, or service that will really get people to take notice?

As a top PR guru, what advice do you have for startups looking to navigate the PR landscape effectively and maximise their brand visibility?

Start by looking at PR work you admire, whether from your peers or other industries. Find out which agencies were behind that work and talk to them. 

Focus on doing fewer things but doing them better. Always link your PR efforts back to your business objectives. 

Avoid getting carried away with vanity metrics; visibility is pointless unless it's making a real difference to your business.

Ready to start your PR journey with a highly recommended, pre-screened freelancer? Sign up and post a new brief in minutes to start receiving matches and proposals from our UK PR freelancer network.


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