a16z Podcast: How to Manage a PR Agency

One of the company building topics that’s surprisingly mystifying is PR — and only surprising since so much of the strategy and tactics behind public relations are actually hidden from public view. We’ve tried demystifying the topic in an ongoing series, covering everything from “the why, how, and when” of PR” and leaders building a personal brand to crisis communications.

But the most frequently asked question startup founders, especially technical ones, have is how to manage a PR agency — from when to bring one in and the mechanics of onboarding and engaging with them; to key acronyms to know in the process of doing so (what’s an AoR? RFP? GA?); to what are the ideal configurations for the who-what-where of in-house vs. agency PR.

So this episode of the a16z Podcast provides perspectives from both sides of the table (in-house vs. agency, big company vs. startup) for what it takes, featuring PR legends and veterans Shannon (Stubo) Brayton, chief marketing officer at LinkedIn (formerly at OpenTable and formerly vice president of corporate communications at eBay) and Margit Wennmachers, operating partner at Andreessen Horowitz who heads up the marketing function (and who co-founded and later sold The Outcast Agency), in conversation with Sonal Chokshi. It’s not dictation — whether from company to agency, or agency to reporter, or PR to internal stakeholders — there’s a lot of strategic thinking involved even with seemingly incidental things. And… it’s a leap of faith.