Public relations aren't something that most startups put a lot of thought or money into. Often that's not a crippling mistake, but it certainly pays for entrepreneurs to know at least some of the tricks of the trade.
A UK PR veteran by the name of Lyndon Johnson has created Think Different[ly], which he describes as "the antidote to traditional PR agencies." He explains the traditional PR retainer:
It's a huge barrier to entry for most startups. It's expensive and requires companies to sign long-term contracts when they may only need a few hours of advice. It also generally fails to understand the challenges facing early stage businesses. Having access to good advice on each of the four Ps (product, price, place, and promotion) can be the difference between the success and failure of a business.
Lyndon uses coffee as an analogy. "Imagine if you bought coffee in the same way most companies buy PR and marketing: you'd end up paying for a month's worth and end up only drinking a couple of cups," he explains. "Nobody does that. It's not necessary."
He suggests a simpler solution - you buy the size and type of coffee you want, when you want it. And, thusly, should buy PR services in the same way.
Lyndon's agency takes this coffee comparison to the next level, in fact. Think Different[ly]'s services range from Espresso shots (sessions by the hour) to Venti (bulk hours) and even Handcrafted (the marketing communications equivalent of a no fat, no foam, skinny, extra shot, extra hot, caramel, iced Frappa–latta–cino).