Getting your News in the News !
A Mini-Guide for Startups to Gain Media Coverage
You have the most fantastic news that you want everyone to know about, and of course everyone wants to hear! You write up a press release and then put it on the wire; after a couple of gulps, because you had no idea it could cost so much. But you do it because you know this news is important and the media will pick it up. You can already see the story in the press!
Then you wait for the journalists, writers, editors to pick up the story and publish it in their online and offline publications. You also wait for the phone calls requesting interviews.
There are thousands of releases published on the wire every day. Journalists are bombarded with “interesting” stories and their mailboxes are always full. The chances of your story being picked up by the media is extremely low.
Below are a few ideas that will help get your story out to the world.
It’s Not About You or Your Firm
First, take a step back and ask yourself if the story is truly newsworthy? Your story has to tie into a much larger angle or trend outside of your company for journalists or editors to write about you. It’s really about satisfying the interests of their readers.
Now that you can see the big picture, let’s explore writing the press release.
STEP 1: Write the Press Release
First, identify the key messages and objectives of the press release. Also, select who will be the spokesperson for the story. S/he should be quoted in the press release and must be available for media interviews.
Here are a few pointers:
- Start your press release with a strong title. This will be the first thing a journalist reads, so make it stand out.
- Add a subtitle that gives more context.
- The first sentence is critical. The main points have to be summarized into this one sentence. Avoid a run-on sentence, however tempting.
- Use headers in your press release so journalists can easily scan the article.
- Include quotes by senior people in your organization, and if applicable, get influential people from outside your startup to contribute.
- Include meaningful metrics that support the information you are providing. Significant metrics can drive headlines, but be aware that your competitors will be reading intently.
- Keep it short and sweet while hitting your key message points
- At the end, include the contact info of the person that will be fielding media inquiries.
Here is an example of the press release we did when we launched Luge Capital.
STEP 2: Create Two Media Lists (Targeted and General)
Contact the publications and websites you believe would be interested in this story. Be realistic. Focus on the media that cover these types of stories. Create this first list of media targets and research which journalists specifically cover these topics. Ideally these journalists know you or have heard about you in the past.
Then create a second list of general media contacts, which contains the other publications and sites that you dream about, including the dailies.
STEP 3: Contact Targeted Media List
Contact the people on your media list individually and inform them of a pending story that you would like to share under embargo. An embargoed press release means the reporter cannot publish any content of the press release until after a certain date and time. Ideally, a press embargo should be set for a minimum of two consecutive business days. This gives the journalist time to do some research and write the story so that it can be published concurrently when the news officially hits the wires.
In your outreach, you should mention the topic of interest that would attract this journalist and would motivate him/ her to want to learn more. Mention that a senior member of the team is available for a call during the embargo period.
STEP 4: Media Pitch to Target List & Media Interviews
On the morning when the embargo begins, send out the press release to the journalists that have confirmed that they will respect the press embargo. Journalists who are not onboard should go on your General Media List. You should send the article to the latter set only when it is ready for general release.
Reiterate that you or your team is available for a phone interview. Have a few key messages ready to discuss with the journalists. The objective is to get an interview between the journalist and spokesperson at your startup that was quoted in that press release.
Make sure to be on time for your media interviews and come prepared with your key messages. Ensure any reports and data that you are referencing are readily available. If the writer needs more info, have someone follow up immediately.
STEP 5: Publish Press Release at Large
Once the press embargo is lifted, you can post the press release online on your website, news sites and social media..
Send out your press release to your second list (General Release). Make sure to refer them to your website for more information and provide your direct contact details.
Create alerts so you are notified if a newspaper or magazine writes about you.
Leverage Social Media
Leverage your social media channels by posting the article. Consider posting the news in social media groups as well. Ask your team members and partners to share the news on their social networks.
Leverage Your Contacts
Email your news to relevant contacts within your extended network. and include links to the media coverage.
Press Embargo Is NOT Always a Must
A press embargo is done when you want maximum coverage of your announcement all live at a precise time. An embargo gives the journalist time to do research and prepare his/ her story in advance with additional insight. If you want to discuss a trending topic or anything that is not time sensitive, then a press embargo is not necessary. You can still write up your press release or blog post and share it with your press contacts a few days prior to publishing it live. Writers do appreciate having at least a couple of days to evaluate if they can leverage your piece to write up a story that will interest their audience.
Even without a press embargo, you should follow the steps above. The main difference is that you can attach your press release at the initial contact with the journalist.
Building Relationships Are Important
Take the time to thank the writers that have covered your news item. Always build and maintain your relationships with the media professionals. Be responsive to journalists if they reach out to you for another story. Help them out when they are looking for specific information. If you are not the right person, see who else can help in your network. The stronger the relationships, the greater probability of being included in their next story or even cover piece.
There are so many advantages from getting strong media coverage, including strengthening your brand, attracting clients, partners and talent. Invest your time and resources in a smart way to get positive publicity, which translates into increased interest in your business.