Updated: May 22, 2020
Some of the most common questions we get are: How much do you charge? How do you work with clients? Why should I hire you? So in the interest of transparency, we decided to turn our answers in a blog post to help potential clients get to know us a little better.
1) What is your typical engagement? – Our average client engagement usually involves some foundational work like a competitive analysis, market research and messaging/positioning, followed by a launch strategy, then media relations for the launch itself. We then typically recommend some momentum sustaining activities such as content creation & marketing, social media and a story matrix to keep our clients top of mind with key audiences following the official launch. This process – from research to launch - typically takes 2-3 months, followed by several months of momentum-sustaining activities until the next newsworthy announcement which can be anything from fundraising or some success metrics to a new product or key hires. We usually sign 6-month contracts at minimum, with our average budgets ranging from $5,000-10,000/month, depending on the scope of work. We're also happy to take on shorter projects if we have the bandwidth.
2) What is your specialty? – Our sweet spot is disruptive tech and healthcare startups, and later-stage companies that need to pivot or reposition themselves (i.e. going from a B2C company to a B2B company, for example). Symphony has a talent for creating clear, concise language and compelling stories that create demand for the products and services that people have never experienced before, which is why many disruptive tech and healthcare companies seek out our services. We also have a lot of experience in helping companies tell the most strategic story for their current stage of development, as well as the story they need to tell to get to the next stage. For example, we worked with Justin.tv to help them reposition from a “lifecasting” site to a content discovery site back in 2009-2010, which led their pivot to Twitch.tv (check out the full case study here). We are also known for our research-based approach to communications and often do custom qualitative research like brand audits, culture refreshes and surveys for our clients.
3) What is your client philosophy? – Our philosophy in working with clients is to proactively communicate early and often, as well as *really* listen to what they need. However, sometimes what clients they think they need isn’t what they actually need to drive their business forward, so we lean on our extensive business experience working with a variety of companies at various stages of development to hone in on what we think will be the most effective strategies and tactics for each client. We also take the time to educate our clients about the process so we are managing their expectations properly. If they know how it all works and what comes next, it reduces their anxiety and builds trust. A lot of communications/PR people are afraid of that kind of transparency, but we embrace it because it makes our job easier in the long run.
4) Why should I hire you? – Startups don’t need to hire a big PR firm right out of the gate (and there are plenty of experienced entrepreneurs and VCs who would agree with us on this). The best approach for an early stage startup is to hire an experienced consultant or in-house communications person that has already launched several startups and knows how the process works. Symphony's founder and CEO, Emily Scherberth Barnes, often functions as her client's head of marketing and communications, which gives clients the best of both worlds: a senior strategist dedicated to their business for the cost of a mid-level manager. Working with a consultant first has several benefits: 1) it’s more cost effective than hiring a PR firm, which typically charges $15-$20K/month at minimum, 2) you’re getting an senior strategist who also is committed to executing the plan they put together – that kind of experience continuity is often sacrificed with an agency who will put their junior people on your business to increase their profit margins, and 3) experienced consultants can add a ton of value to a startup in the early stages and function as a key member of the executive team – think of them as a "Swiss army knife" that can help with everything from business development, to marketing to lead generation and content creation, in addition to storytelling and media relations. Really talented communications/PR people can exponentially increase the trajectory of a startup.
So those are just a few things you should know about Symphony and how we work with our clients. If you’re interested in learning more about what we can do for you, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!