Tips for pitching your startup to the media, other than press releases.

As a startup, getting media coverage is essential to spreading the word about your company and increasing awareness among potential customers.

No one knows your business like you do. But when it comes to media coverage, do you ever feel like you are just talking to yourself? How do you get their attention? This is a question I get a lot in my line of work.

So what is the secret sauce to getting that oh so valuable media attention? Well, a little bit of planning will go a long way! Here are a few tips to help you amplify your reach:

  • Find the people that cover your niche or industry. A great way to do this is by searching the publication name on Twitter. Journalists are people. Funny people, actually! Get to know them. Read and share their stuff, send them info if they post about needing a source, etc. You'll get a sense of their personality and what they cover much better if you create a relationship with them. Create a list of where each journalist works, what they cover, and their contact info so you don't have to rely on memory or start from scratch each time. While you are getting to know the journalists in your industry, get to know the influencers. The more relationships you can create, the more eyeballs you have when you have news to share.

  • Drill down to what makes your story unique or newsworthy. While all the stuff going on in your company is fun and exciting for you, most of the time it's not that interesting to the media. However, new companies with lots of jobs, those with a purpose (e.g., social responsibility), or a founder with an incredible story have a better shot of grabbing some attention.

  • While we are on the subject of attention, write engaging titles and subject lines. You can't get anywhere unless you get the email opened. Think about this from the audience perspective—what types of emails and stories do you click on?

  • Keep your ear to the ground! Set up a google alert for your industry so that you see newsworthy stories as soon as they happen. This will a) show you who is covering what and b) allow you to inject your expertise when something relevant is happening in your industry.

  • Get some other press mentions under your belt. You can do this by answering HARO queries. I have had great success with those and created some relationships with editors along the way. Don't worry if you don't get a lot of responses at first. You'll get the hang of it.

  • Share your story in podcasts. There are tons of people looking for guests, and this is a fantastic way to get your story out there!

  • Don't skimp on your core messaging. Hire a professional to help you with your backstory/mission/vision etc. Developing an incredible story about your personal path and the company's purpose are great tools. Not only will having these ready help you with the pitch, when you have inspiring stories it's easier for the media to cover you!

It's not impossible to get media coverage, but it does take some effort. Remember that building relationships with journalists is critical – it's about creating a dialogue so that when you have something newsworthy to share, they are primed and ready to cover it. The most important thing is to have a great story to tell and to take the time to create a well-crafted pitch. Don't be discouraged if you don't get immediate results – persistence is essential in this process!

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