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How to scale your PR team as your business grows


In early-stage fintechs, the ‘PR team’ is as likely to be the CEO or the sales person.


As the business grows, more often than not, the sales and marketing team grow quickly and the PR ‘team’ remains very lean. It can be really difficult to have a clear vision for what the PR team should look like and to get buy-in for scaling as the business grows.


There isn’t a straightforward formula for how to scale a PR team as each business has different PR needs. However, in this article, we will share the four key questions you need to ask yourself to help you to identify how to effectively grow your team.


  1. What does the business need from the PR team?


In a previous article, we spoke about the importance of aligning PR objectives to the business’s overarching objectives https://www.thefinancetalks.co.uk/post/pr-for-fintechs. These objectives are also a crucial starting point for working out how to grow your team. The team around you needs to help you achieve your objectives, therefore each new role needs to be clearly aligned to one or more of those objectives.


Focus on the immovable, long-term business objectives - eg. international expansion or product diversification - these are the areas where you need a long-term focus, and where a new team member can deliver value to the business.


Shorter-term objectives - like supporting a fundraise - can usually be covered by existing team members, or with some specialist outside support.


With your long-term view of what the PR team needs to achieve, look at your own skills and interests and identify where you have gaps. With this, you have the foundations on which to build your team.


  1. Is there a career in the roles you want to create?


Scaling a team and hiring new people is a big responsibility. As well as identifying the need for a new role, you have to ensure new team members will have the opportunity to grow and have a career in the business.


Ask yourself the following questions:

● What would the career ladder look like for the role - what are the promotion prospects and how will the role evolve?

● In time, can you hand over responsibility for the objectives the new employee will be working towards? Can they ‘own’ those objectives?

● Will you and your role stand in the way of this employee’s progress? Is there considerable overlap?


If you have positive responses to these questions, then clearly there is scope for a great new role to be created. If you are struggling with any aspects of the role, then there may not be sufficient need at this point.


2. Should you hire an employee, a freelance PR or an agency?


If you are struggling to define a role with the potential for growth, an agency or independent consultant might offer the support you need.


Agencies play an important role in the success of in-house teams, but they need to be used correctly. There are two main ways that agencies can be used: outsourcing and expert counsel.


Outsourcing

Agencies can give you a team of experienced people, often for about the same amount as you would pay one person in-house.


If you decide to get an agency on board as an outsourced part of your team, then make sure you have a clear view of what you want them to deliver. Identify where your strengths are, how you deliver the most value to the business, and where the agency can support you to do your best work, as well as fill in the gaps.


Media relations is often an area where an outsourced team can bring the most value. With their increased scale, they can build relationships with journalists that you, as an individual, won’t have time for.


When you know exactly what you want from your agency, ensure this is clearly communicated and measured.


Expert counsel

No matter if you are scaling your team or not, it’s advisable to have a great agency or consultant on hand for outside counsel - the experience and perspective this will offer is impossible to have in a small in-house team.


Find someone whose advice you trust and make sure your executive team also has trust in this consultant (or agency).


Expert outside counsel can be drawn upon in any time of need - a potential crisis, a difficult journalist, or as back-up for difficult conversations with your CEO.


3. Hiring the right person


There is a huge amount of advice out there for successful hiring processes. Before you dig into that, make sure you have a clear view of the level of experience you need from your new hire.


Alongside the career path for your role, answering the following questions should help you to define the level of experience you need.

● To what extent can you train and mentor the new hire - do you have the time to teach them the basics?

● What level of responsibility do you want to give them from the very beginning? Do you need to completely offload an element of your own role?

● Who will they be collaborating with inside the business and what will their expectations be?


Your answers to these questions will indicate whether you need someone who is very early in their career, or someone with a number of years’ experience. With this - go forward and start your search!




The key to scaling a team successfully is to have a clear vision for what your team needs to deliver, where you can offer career opportunities, whether you need people with experience, or if you can invest in people new to their career.


It is always a really tough thing to do well, and it will take up a lot of your time. However, by investing the time and effort up front, and giving your new hires the best possible start in their role, this effort will pay off - and you will have yourself some great new colleagues!

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