Let’s stop free photo opportunities for politicians at startups.


One thing that has been bugging me more and more recently is politicians getting great photographs / PR stories while touring startup offices. It has become quite the fashion and I can see why. For the politicians.

Here’s what the Berlin startup scene has gotten in return from these politicians so far:_____________ . Let me know if I missed anything.

So I am wondering if we all need to start doing something like this:

  • Every politician is more than welcome to visit our offices and invite press to come along.
  • They can take as many pictures as they like – however they will be handed a kind of ten-point ‘manifesto’ what we – the Berlin startup scene – need them to deliver and this will be clearly communicated to the press.
  • 6-12 months later the press gets an update as to progress on those points / if the politician has helped with anything.

If a politician is not willing to accept that then there is no free photo PR opportunity.  That’s the deal, taking photos at startups is no free lunch anymore.

Oh; and we also need to talk about that ten-point manifesto for Berlin politicians. I’ll write about that next time.

6 Comments on “Let’s stop free photo opportunities for politicians at startups.”

  1. Mathias says:

    IMHO you forget about the fact that these occasions also mean PR opportunities for the startups. The politicians usually bring an entourage of media representatives with them and it can be a good opportunity for an early stage company that has limited PR resources to get exposure to – more or less important – media. As a startup I would make sure to get to know upfront which media representatives will come along and that they will actually mention your company’s name in their coverage.

    It is still up to the company if they consider it as worthwhile or not – if yes, it can mean a nice, cheap and easy way of getting coverage. If they don’t want to do it or if it isn’t relevant, they simply do not have to take part.

    I am not defending anybody here but I think your view is a bit too “black-and-white”.
    Though, the manifesto is still a good idea and if you talk to the folks of GSA (https://germanstartups.org/) I am sure they are already working on that.

    Overall I think the tech startup ecosystem deserves more (positive) coverage in German media in order to educate the public and get its fair share of attention. Thus, every opportunity shall be welcome!

    • berlinvc says:

      You are right that I am being over simplistic and black / white. I was a big fan at the beginning but I am observing that if we don’t change the tonality a little bit I am pretty sure we will get diminishing returns of these visits asap.

      • Mathias says:

        True, but media will also lose interest soon if it is always the same story so if politicians want to stay on top of mind – by the nature of things – they will need to do something at some point (that is actually worth to be covered by journalists/media). Thus, I am not (yet) losing my optimism. 🙂

  2. Marcel "the future startup scene Berlin lobbyist" says:

    Seriously? Are there startups that meet politicians with no clear message or strategy? Unbelievable, can I sell basic regulatory affairs advice to these guys? They can concentrate on what they are best at (startingup) and leave the other stuff to the pros.

  3. Sebastian S. says:

    @Mathias: PR effects are typically over-estimated at startups. Most startups detect much less sales uplift from a single press release than they had expected or hoped for.

    @Ciarán: Here is one point for the manifesto: Make it easier to start AND to shut down a GmbH or UG (role model: companieshouse.gov.uk)

  4. […] Let’s stop free photo opportunities for politicians at startups. “Here’s what the Berlin startup scene has gotten in return from these politicians so far:_____________ . Let me know if I missed anything.” […]

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