Written By Irina Belsky
You’d be surprised how many startups are clueless about talking to the media. Especially when media coverage can lead a startup from obscurity into the light of day. That’s why Media Relations 101 for Startups (MR 101) was a much needed event for the startup community. The focus of the event was to provide entrepreneurs with enough media knowledge to get press coverage of their startup. MR 101, which was organised by Pushstart and hosted by Ninefold, included a panel of industry professionals who spoke about practical ways to get media coverage for startups.
If you are interested in learning more about talking to the media, please read the article below for a complete summary of the content.
- Contacting the media
- Getting the media to want your story
- Building relationships with representatives of media
- Making your business website media friendly
Corrie McLeod: Director of Espresso Communications and a PR professional with experience in the IT industry.
Jeanne-Vida Douglas: BRW journalist and editor with ten years experience reporting in the IT industry.
Mahesh Sharma: Freelance journalist reporting on startups, IT and entrepreneurship.
Reasons for PR
Sales- the more exposure your business has, the more people will know about it. More people equals more customers.
Talent - convincing a highly skilled person to work for an early stage business can be hard. Media exposure can help you build a reputation, so you don’t have to work as hard to find the right person to join your team.
Other business ends - PR doesn’t just work on a B2C level, it can also help you secure partnerships with other businesses by making it easier to approach them. Media exposure is the natural way to build reputation with customers and other businesses.
Key Media Messages
- Who are you? -why would the journalist want their audience to read about you?
- What do you do? -why is that of interest to the audience of the publication you’re pitching to?
- Who do you do this for? - make your offering relevant to the readers of the publication. Who are your users and why would they prefer your service?
- How are you different? - the selling point. What makes you stand out?
Always think about the journalist and their audience when you answer these questions. And always ask yourself, “what would make a good story?” For example personal experiences make good stories. Have your users advocate the business by sharing their positive experiences. If you don’t have any users yet, ask someone you know to be an advocate.
Media Release: when writing the media release, write the most newsworthy information first, include quotes from the founders that support your newsworthy angle, keep your sentences short and simple and write in the voice of your target publication.
Boilerplate - a boiler plate is the information about your business. It is usually found at the bottom of the media release and includes the facts that journalists want to know: When the business was founded, the number of customers, business vision and achievements.
Executive photography - photographs of your team can make your story more appealing to the journalist and more appealing to the reader. Make them good. For extra brownie points be creative. It will capture attention, if nothing else.
Product images - high quality images that show your products in the best light.
Resource gallery - on your website include press releases that mark all worthy milestones such as the first customer, the first investor, the 100th customer, new functionalities, new team members coming on board. Why? A journalist will have more information to work with.
Build relationships with media bloggers, influencers and journalists- leave comments on their blogs and articles, offer advice, engage with them.
Use twitter to connect with journalists- they often use twitter to find sources for their stories. If the journalist is not interested when you first pitch your story, keep in touch with them and continue to let them know about your business’s developments in case something comes up later on.
Pitch a story for a specific section of a publication instead of targeting the entire publication. This will show you are familiar with the publication and have thought about the target audience.
Think of whats relevant to the biggest audience - journalists write about things that are relevant to the majority of their target audience.
DO NOT send out press releases to the publications you don’t read.
DO NOT send out press releases to journalists whose articles you haven’t read.
DO NOT send out press releases to journalists you haven’t spoken to.
Have ONE spokesperson - a personality becomes linked to the brand, so keep it consistent.
If you are the spokesperson, write down numbers and important details before interviews and remember them so you don’t get misquoted.
Create a blog that gives a human face to your business: record your experiences and share your business’s progress with your readers.
Learning about the media is often on the bottom of entrepreneurs’ priority list, which is understandable, given how much they have on their plate. While you don’t have to be a media relations expert, knowing the basics of talking to the media is important. Media coverage can be a great marketing tool which can help your business build its brand and its reputation.
You can find the Prezie presentation of the event here.
This article was adapted from a blog post by the author: You can find the original blog post here.