Who doesn’t want their startup presented in a favorable light in the press? Getting positive coverage by trusted sources is hugely powerful.
Its the chance to tell people that they need your product or service when they wouldnt even know it exists. With the abundance of media outlets to get your story told via online, print, broadcast and magazines, etc., its vital to have suitable link building aimed at driving engagement. SEO should be a part of every public relations plan. The more mentions of your business online, the higher you rank on Google. The more traffic to your website, the increase in lead generation, sales, and ROI.
The million dollar question is how do you get your startup in the game?
There’s no simple answer but here are four ways to get press coverage for your startup:
Why not aim to make friends instead of contacts. Observe the reporters/media outlets that cover your industry and create a highly targeted list. Follow them on social media and engage in conversations. Share their content, answer their questions, pay them a compliment on an admired piece with no strings attached. You may not be a reporter’s BFF just yet, but when you send them an email for the first time, they’ll likely recognize your name.
It’s more effective to send personalized pitches of your story to fewer journalists who cover your industry then send the same scripted message to the whole newsroom.
Be on the lookout for pitching opportunities by using free services like HARO. Become a credible and trustworthy source by providing compelling stories on a timely basis.
Make it a win-win by offering exclusivity. The journalist will be happy because It means you handpicked them and only them to cover your startup, and youll be happy because it will increase the likelihood of getting coverage.
Like everything else, relationship building takes time.
Know your Target
Put yourself in a reporters shoes. Why would they want to write about your startup. Since you’ve been brushing up on your relationship building skills with media, you should already know their beat, style and the topics they cover. If a journalist frequently writes about education then don’t pitch a story about children’s wear unless of course it somehow ties into education. Go ahead, tell them a story that will pique their interest and resonate with their audience. Always ask yourself how it will benefit their reader or viewer.
Create an irresistible subject line that gets your email opened and read, not trashed. Simply tell them what the email is all about.
Keep in mind that reporters get inundated with emails, so be concise. Ideally describe your startup in three sentences or less.
If your big news is that your software is being updated from version 1.1.1 to version 1.1.2 then an acknowledgment is unlikely so don’t hold your breath.
If youre offering a product like nail polish, something thats already out there, then you need to ask yourself what makes yours special. Maybe it’s that you landed a highly influential investor, or it could be your remarkable story of how your business came to be and the mistakes you made along the way. Save your “my long-lasting nail polish is the best” spiel for the advertising department. Its story time. Recount your journey in creating a long lasting nail polish with minimal harsh chemicals after being dissatisfied with the nail polishes on the market. Don’t forget to mention the part where you defied all those nay sayers.
Avoid cliché words like revolutionary and groundbreaking. Shock value is not off-limits as long as you stay honest and classy.
When pitching a reporter ask yourself if it’s an EMII (entertaining, memorable, informative and inspiring.)
Be Pitch Perfect
Timing is everything. If you have a product that would make a great gift guide item, then be sure to send your pitches in line with publication’s editorial calendar. A week before Halloween or Christmas wont cut it. Be prepared months in advance and be armed with a press kit (headshot, backgrounder, press release and FAQ’s, etc.)
Email is still the way to go for the pitching method. Picking up the phone or a Tweet is not out of the question; its just not the most widely accepted method among reporters.
- Be personal, address the journalist by their name.
- Write in the inverted triangle with the most important information at the top.
- Be sure to answer the what, why, when, where and how.
- Use bullet points to organize your thoughts.
- Numerical data makes for interesting information like the results from a survey or a stat from your industry.
- Attach nothing. Be safe and include links instead. Attachments can increase the size of emails and be flagged as spam.
- Include a testimonial from a satisfied customer.
- Stay on top of current affairs. You never know when you can offer a fresh angle on an existing issue.
- Don’t forget to include “the ask.” In other words, what you would like the reporter to do with this information.
Whether it’s an interview or a feature story, there needs to be a call to action. Get a reply from the media?
Respect the fact that they have tight deadlines. Be prompt in getting back to them and be ready with the information they need. Don’t get caught off guard and always stay on message.
If you don’t get a response, its OK to follow-up but after a couple tries gracefully bow out and accept that they’re just not interested.
Be realistic with your expectations so if you don’t secure national coverage on your first try don’t be disappointed. Be patient, persistent but more importantly– be EMII.