Engaging the media effectively
The media is a conduit of your startup’s voice. To engage the media effectively is to raise your startup’s chances of getting publicity. It is for that reason startups should learn what the media look for in a news story. It might be a lot less complicated than you think.
Send a clear message across. The only reason why you invest time in media publicity is to find your voice in this competitive market. Getting a mention on media is great. It helps build your brand, raise awareness and might even land you some customers. For that moment, you have the undivided attention of the readers. Ask yourself the question, how do you want to be remembered? Distill it down to just that one point that you want readers to take away. Just THE point that defines your startup.
Follow through but don’t harass. Your first pitch is probably going to be sitting in the journalist’s unread folder with 500 other emails. But you have just planted the seed in the mind of the journalist. Continue to groom it by sharing your startup’s latest development, new angles, industry insights or anything newsworthy. What the journalist won’t appreciate is being told what to write, so don’t get defensive or critical when the journalist says no. Ask for permission to continue sharing further.
Tell a story visually and experientially. The media gets bombarded with plenty of calls and emails daily, and do get bored. Try engaging the media through a little creativity by injecting visual and/or experiential materials. For retail-focused startups, perhaps you could send free samples to the media so they can better understand your product. This would endear you to them more than just a plain email.
Even if your startup does not have a physical product, a video link to explain the services certainly beats a wall of text.
Give interesting content. The media’s most important key performance indicator (KPI) is viewership. Newsworthy materials grab the greatest number of eyeballs and the media is always on the lookout for it.
Crafting an interesting angle with a news hook that gets the attention of journalists is key. Name dropping also certainly helps. Some corporate developments such as a new series funding, particularly from a brand-name venture capitalist, or a substantial amount or signing on a new large customer would be eye-catching. In cases where those metrics are too tall an order, reaching key milestones such as the first million dollar in revenue, turning profitable, expanding into new markets, forming new partnerships or revolutionary new features might work too.
Understanding their beat. Just like how you call both dentists and physicians “doctors”, but only go to a dentist to treat your toothache and cardiologist to treat heart ailments. Understanding the interest and expertise, or in journalism parlance — beat, of the journalist is as important. Almost nothing frustrates the journalist more than to receive irrelevant materials.
Show them you understand their beat. Build rapport and raise the likelihood of journalists taking an interest in your startup’s products by doing your research on past articles written. Reference to the fact that you know what their area of expertise is and build on their existing work.
For example, your startup could be focused on technology within the real estate sector and you found a journalist on the property beat. You could reference your pitch to the journalist’s recent article on government grants to drive productivity in the property industry and how your startup fits into the government’s objective.
Keeping these points in mind will dramatically raise your odds of getting coverage for your startup, not to mention the goodwill you will likely cultivate with the media.
PR can be daunting but do your research and let your passion flow. You will be just fine.
About the Author: CloutNine helps startups discover the right journalist they should be pitching to. Try us at https://goo.gl/a61tW9