Is your startup struggling to get the media attention it deserves? With the right strategies in place, startups can compete with top enterprises like Apple, Amazon, and others for media coverage.
Reporters are constantly looking for fresh, interesting, and relevant companies to write about. However, breaking through the noise isn’t easy. According to BuzzStream, 54 percent of journalists get pitched a minimum of 20 times per day. Fail to stand out, and your pitch will be overlooked. By utilizing these best practices, your startup can learn how to craft intriguing stories and hooks.
Check out these four PR hacks for startups and get the coverage you need.
4 Ways to Get Media Coverage
1) Know What Topics Reporters Want to Cover
When it comes to getting press, it’s important to understand which topics are newsworthy and which ones are not. Unfortunately, some founders are so blinded by their enthusiasm that they don’t stop to put themselves in the reporters’ shoes. When it comes to tech, newsworthy stories usually fall into four categories:
- Partnerships: Did you join forces with a recognizable corporate?
- Investments: Did you score a new funding round?
- Acquisitions: Is your startup getting acquired by a large corporation?
- Trends: Are you at the forefront of capitalizing on something trend-worthy?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, there’s a potential story. Beyond the four tech categories, newsworthy stories usually contain one (or more) of the following common attributes:
- Superlatives: Are you the first, the last, the best, the worst, the biggest, or the smallest?
- Conflict: Genuinely disagree with a competitor and believe you have a better way of doing things?
- Local: Many news organizations cover specific geographic regions; know your audience.
- Timely: Have a story about an upcoming event? Is it especially relevant to your target news organization’s specialty?
- David vs. Goliath: Are you a “little guy” taking on a “big cause?”
- Surprising: Reporters love stories with unexpected twists, endings, and findings.
The more newsworthy your story, the more likely it is to receive coverage. Don’t approach a reporter without going through this checklist first.
2) Know Your Value Proposition
Articulating a clear value proposition is critical for generating substantial media coverage. A value proposition, of course, is a positioning statement that explains what you do uniquely well, why you do it, and who it serves. A good value proposition makes people (and the media) care about your product or service.
“As an entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, I enjoy collaborating with innovators on their planned ventures and helping them explore their value propositions,” says Forbes contributor Michael Skok. “However, many entrepreneurs lose out, due to never truly articulating a compelling value proposition.”
Skok recommends startup founders do four things when defining value propositions:
- Define the problem you are seeking to solve.
- Evaluate how your breakthrough is unique and compelling.
- Measure potential customer adoption using a gain/pain ratio.
- Build the value proposition into a positioning statement.
Once you have clearly articulated your value proposition, be sure to reference it every time you pitch a reporter, whether it’s in the press release or the direct message itself.
Build Relationships With Reporters
Imagine opening your inbox tomorrow morning and receiving requests for favors from two people: One of them is your childhood best friend, and the other is a stranger. Which email are you most likely to read? Understandably, we all prioritize messages from people we know, and reporters are no different.
In order to succeed in generating publicity, become your own PR person. That means taking the time to develop relationships with reporters. Focus on reporters working for the media outlets that fit the industry of your startup. Actions to take include:
- Determine which reporters cover the tech beat by reviewing bylines.
- Familiarize yourself with their past written articles.
- Find and follow those reporters on Twitter.
- Read, retweet, and comment on their posts.
- Search for in-person networking opportunities.
- Offer yourself as a source for articles they’re working on.
Building relationships with reporters takes time. However, if you take the time to connect with journalists, they are likely to be more receptive whenever you send that pitch.
4) Make it Easy
When working with a reporter, make the process easy. Just like you, reporters are extremely busy. You can increase your likelihood of media coverage by making their jobs easier with the following preparatory work:
- Maintain third-person bios of key team members on your website (reporters use these when writing).
- Have a one-page press release on file (that can be modified for various stories).
- Know who the contact person will be (and include his or her info for follow-up).
- Have relevant data on file (that can be used to back up claims whenever possible).
Providing the media contact with the necessary documents and information needed to write the story will make the job much easier. Additionally, it will enhance your ability to pitch timely stories as they arise.
Pitch Smart + Pitch Often
Follow these four startup PR hacks, and your likelihood of generating press coverage will increase dramatically. It’s important to be both realistic and persistent. Don’t expect to land coverage with every single pitch, yet don’t give up after your first few “no’s.” If you don’t get coverage on your latest round of funding, keep pitching, and eventually something will land.