Why most startups struggle for PR and press coverage

On the surface, getting your company in the media looks easy.

Surely it’s just a matter of finding the email of some journalists and sending them information on your company or product and the story will follow? Your company is awesome, everyone’s just going to love it!

However, this is rarely the case. Most of the time startups going out and pitching their stories won’t even get a response from a journalist.

After working as both a startup journalist and in PR, i’ve come to notice three main things startups pitching their own media story get wrong.

1. What the hell are you even talking about?

Articulation. This is often the biggest issue when pitching a story.

You’ve been busy building your technology and business for months, you’re completely embedded and are living and breathing everything to do with your company. This is great for building, but no so great for communicating with people about something they have absolutely no idea about.

Often, as a journalist, I would have seen pitches from startups that feel like i’ve jumped right into the deep depths of the founder’s brain and where they’re at, but leaving me with no idea what their company does.

Your communication to anyone new should always be like an ELI5 post about what your company is, who it’s for and what your secret sauce is.

You also need to make sure to structure that properly. Think of it like your investor pitch. Start with your elevator pitch to summarise what you’re building and what problem it’s solving. Then go into a few more details once you’ve set up the high level understanding.

2. Why should anyone care?

We know you know that your technology and product is amazing. But how will this help people, why would anyone care about it and like an investor pitch — what problem is it solving?

That problem is the key here. Usually a good hook for a story is when a journalist finds out about this big problem that exists, how many people it’s affecting and why it’s this mega drain on business or society. Then how you’re going to solve it.

The story is rarely going to be your product. The story is mostly going to be about the problem that you’re solving.

3. You didn’t target the right publication or journalist

Now if you failed at number two there, you definitely failed at number three. If you can work out who will care and why they will care about your product, you’ve got your recipe book to find the right places to pitch to.

Who do you want to be reading about your company? And what type of publication would that person be reading? Answer those questions and you’ve got your right target. Because odds are, if it’s the right publication, they’re also targeting content for readers that are your potential customers.

Once you’ve found your publications, take the time to work out who’s the best writer for the story. Nothing annoys a journalist more than getting spammed with press releases about topics or beats they don’t care about or write about.

So what can you do?

Well, those are the things that are almost always missing when a founder tries to pitch their startup’s own media.

Now, you could work on all of this yourself if you needed to really save cash, of course. There are a short courses online that can help you out here, or you can keep reading articles like this one. Also like anything, it takes time to master and learn.

Or if you don’t have the time you could hire a PR agency to do it for you. But these can be quite expensive, especially if you’re burning through seed funding.

Or even better, (yes I know, obligatory company plug) have a chat with us at Drops Media, and we’ll help sort it out for you affordably, using machine learning to better target, articulate and structure your company.