How to Rise Above the Noise — Tips on Getting Press Coverage for your Enterprise Tech Startup

It can often seem like an uphill battle trying to get press coverage for your enterprise tech startup. Although sometimes it feels like who gets covered is completely random, there’s actually a method to the madness.

To dig a little deeper into the art of enterprise PR, we recently hosted Jonathan Shieber of TechCrunch, Jing Cao of Bloomberg, Robert Hackett of Fortune, and Alex Konrad of Forbes for a panel on How to Get Press Coverage for Your Enterprise Tech Startup at the New York Enterprise Tech Meetup. Mickey Graham, our Communications Manager, moderated a tactical discussion on what to keep in mind when shooting for enterprise tech press coverage. Here are their top thoughts:

Unless you just hit $100 million in annual recurring revenue or you’re about to go public, your product announcements, company updates, and new version releases are probably just not newsworthy enough to justify coverage in a mainstream publication like Forbes, Bloomberg, Fortune, or TechCrunch. Make sure your news is relevant for the broader audience of these mainstream publications, and is not just a milestone important to your startup. The standards for newsworthiness vary by industry but a few good rules of thumb: are you about to announce a new fundraising round and your first referenceable customers? Are you challenging an incumbent technology or business and gaining market share? Does your news impact the broader market? Would your peers be shocked to learn about it? If so, consider sending it in. Just remember this caveat: in enterprise tech, there can be a $4B acquisition and people still don’t care.

Cold Email, but Be Strategic in Who and How You Pitch

Journalists tend to keep their emails public, and for good reason. They want to hear from you, and they never know when the next pitch that comes through their inbox will be the diamond in the rough. That said, be strategic in who and how you pitch.

Make sure to do your homework, and only pitch reporters that cover your beat. Keep your pitch as short as possible (a couple sentences at most), and don’t be incessant in your follow ups. For best results, email once, wait a few days, then email again. If you don’t hear back, let it go. For cold emails, the third time is never the charm.

Like Everything in Life, a Warm Introduction Goes a Long Way

Although it’s fine to send cold emails, these reporters inboxes can end up looking more like a twitter feed than inbox zero. The reality of the situation is that a great warm intro is one of the easiest ways to differentiate yourself. As with most things in the startup community, leveraging your network to get a warm intro will help you break above the noise. A personal connection can be a key differentiator when a reporter’s deciding what to cover, so building personal relationships with journalists can be a great way to break above the noise as well. Facetime is important, and you don’t always need to be pitching at, for example, a meet-and-greet. So tap into your network to find a connection, go to the relevant events and introduce yourself to reporters, and request a quick coffee to get a little facetime to make sure you’re not just another anonymous email address.

Work Your Angle with an Exclusive

While it can’t ensure your pitches’ success, an exclusive (when you share a story with only one reporter) can help make your story more attractive to a journalist. The key is not just offering it, but making the case for why your story makes particular sense for a specific person and publication. Find your angle, whether it’s that the CEO vibed with a reporter, or your timeline is flexible, and reporters may be willing to go the extra mile to make your story happen.

Know What to Expect When Hiring a PR Firm

If you’re struggling on your own to find a reporter in your network, or your story isn’t finding any traction with the journalists you’re pitching, it can make sense to turn to a PR firm for help. Just make sure to be upfront and honest about what you’re looking for: are you looking for 5 quality introductions to journalists for coffee, even if not getting a story is ok? Or are you looking for your firm to just send 50 pitches, even if you get 50 nos? Would you be ok getting coverage in a more niche or industry specific publication, or do you just want one story in a mainstream tech publication? PR firms can definitely help with making personal connections via intros to journalists with which they have an established relationship, but keep in mind that a PR firm is expensive, and don’t expect they can solve all your coverage problems.

Write Guest Posts to Build Relationships

Publications like Forbes, VentureBeat, Business Insider, and TechCrunch are all on the lookout to showcase new perspectives and writers to create a forum for entrepreneurs. To get your foot in the door, consider submitting contributor columns — fully-formed pieces intended for the sole publication of a news organization in their entirety. Editorial standards are particularly high for guest columns as any given piece needs to be well-written, interesting, and well-researched, but this may be a great way to get your name and organization out there as a thought leader. Share your honest opinions and back them up with evidence, but just make sure to stay away from self-promotion. The #1 rejection reason for both regular and one-off syndicated content submissions is self-promotion in the post. Make sure your company is mentioned only in passing once, at most.

For major tech publications, enterprise tech is a tough sell. Although we would like to think otherwise, their lowest trafficked stories are often about enterprise technology, so your news has to be even bigger and better to sell an editor. But luckily, the barrier to entry may be lower elsewhere, and it can still generate the interest you want.

Know the audience and customer you’re trying to target, and consider alternatives like trade publications. Many people in specialized areas of enterprise tech focus their attention solely on trade publications, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with publishing your announcement in one. It’s often better bang for your hard-work buck anyways in terms of reaching your target audience.

Any other pro tips or advice for getting press coverage? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter, and make sure to watch the panel in its entirety below!

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Originally published at archive.work-bench.com on February 18, 2016.