How to Get Press Coverage for Your Startup, Small Enterprise
All businesses want positive press coverage for their products or services. It’s easy to understand why. Public relations (i.e. media exposure) offers a high level of credibility that few other marketing tactics can. Working with the O.G. influencers – media – and gaining their interest in a compelling news story about your company can influence customers, investors, partners, employees and all of your key stakeholders.
Press coverage for your startup can be an effective way to raise awareness, generate buzz, and attract potential customers or investors, making it a truly impactful communications tool that can boost a business quickly with last results.
However, your idea of what media interviews, stories and coverage has changed from the days of traditional PR. Read this for more information on those changes and how you can be a better resource for media.
Here are some tips on how to get press for your startup:
Develop a compelling story: Create a clear and compelling narrative around your startup that highlights what problem you're solving, why it's important, and how you're uniquely positioned to solve it. This seems easy to do, but when you’re a founder sometimes you are in the weeds and may not be the best to flush out a story that is going to be meaningful to media. Using statistics and case studies to prove the need for your product or service can go a long way to helping develop a compelling and interesting news story. Run it by your team, board members, mentors and advisors. You can even select a journalist to run it by for feedback. This can open the door to a relationship that may lead to a story.
Data can be used in many ways to meet the needs of video. Consider an infographic or short, engaging video they can use to accompany their story on your company. When ready to put your story out to media, craft a compelling pitch that communicates your story in a concise and engaging manner. Lead with the data to set the framework of “why”.
Research relevant media outlets: Identify media outlets that cover topics relevant to your startup's industry, target audience, or niche. Research their editorial guidelines, the types of stories they typically cover, and the journalists there who cover your industry or topic.
Today, it’s more than just media outlets. There are thousands of freelance writers who may specialize on this topic and can then pitch the story into a media outlet for you. It’s important to remember that media cuts over the past decade have resulted in fewer journalists at outlets and more freelancers.
The power of niche audiences is the #1 Most Overlooked PR Approach to Generating Media Coverage.
Build relationships with journalists: Start local. Pitching your story locally is the fastest way to generate PR for your company. Why? Because local media have a vested interest in local companies. Building a relationship locally and achieving media coverage can make it easier to cultivate relationships with broader national media. Plus, you will have story examples you can share that will encourage them to look at your story for consideration.
Understanding what media want. It has to be a win win. They need stories that create curiosity, clicks and engagement to sell more advertising. They also want to build their online profile and audience, so follow them on social media channels and be sure to tag them when you share their news story on your company on your channels. When you are empathetic to the needs of media and journalists and give them what they need, they will be more likely to give you what you want in return – coverage.
Personalize your outreach when reaching out to journalists and demonstrate that you've done your homework by referencing their previous work and understanding that you are contacting the right writer.
Create a press kit: Develop a press kit that includes your startup's logo, executive team bios, product or service information, high-quality images or videos, and any relevant press releases or news articles. Make it easily accessible on your website or via a link that you can share with journalists.
Write a compelling press release: While the role of press releases as changed in PR, they can still be a valuable asset in telling and sharing your story. Use your compelling story to craft a well-written and newsworthy press release that announces a significant milestone, such as a product launch, a funding round, a partnership, or a major company update. Be sure to follow standard press release format and include relevant quotes, statistics, and contact information for media inquiries.
Build an Online Newsroom: An online newsroom is a precious resource for media and, when built right, can be searchable. The goal is to develop a page on your website that is specifically for media. Post your full length press releases and expert bios and talking points available and make story assets, such as photos, graphics, charts, etc., downloadable and easy to access. Media are busier than ever today. When they are searching for a product or subject matter expert, they will find your newsroom and be able to either write the story, or include your company in a story, and easily locate contact information for an interview. Again, this is all searchable content.
Offer exclusives or insights: Media want to be the first to tell a story. It gives them leverage with readers and drives what matters to them – clicks, engagement and shares. Providing journalists with exclusive access to your startup's news or insights can incentivize them to cover your story and create a sense of urgency. Alternatively, offer to provide expert commentary or insights on industry trends or news that can position you as a thought leader.
Product Sampling: Media and journalists want to know that you’re a legit company. Offering them a product sample or service trial can make your story tangible and allows them the chance to speak from firsthand experience. With that firsthand experience comes reviews which can be valuable to customers looking for articles on “best of” or “top” product category stories. While you pay for the shipping or other internal costs, the PR value can be worth the investment.
Use social media and content marketing: Leverage social media and content marketing to create and share engaging content that showcases your expertise, thought leadership, and unique perspective, along with your product and service. Remember that social media and content you produce for your website, or an expert article is searchable. This can help you build your brand and attract attention from journalists and media outlets.
Create a strategy for industry events: Industry events like trade shows and conferences can offer an unprecedented opportunity to meet the media and journalists that will be interested in your startup or small enterprise’s product or service. Attending these events and presenting with a booth can open the doors to media attending the event and give you the chance to create an interesting reason for them to stop by to learn more and build relationships in person. When you follow up with these journalists after the event, they will be more responsive and interested in writing a story or including your company in a future story.
Be responsive and available: When you do get media inquiries, respond promptly and be available for interviews or additional information. It’s crazy to us how many clients and executives do not make media a priority. The difficulty comes from understanding that when media want to talk with you, it’s usually very immediate, so you need to make the time to talk with them if you want to leverage the opportunity.
The challenge with PR is that there are no guarantees. We PR pros know that a compelling story will get the attention of media, but they aren’t going to drop everything just because we sent them a story idea. Journalists are working on many stories and deadlines at the same time. Acts of God, like devastating storms or earthquakes happen and can steal the news cycle for days if not weeks. Just as we cannot control acts by humans that wreak havoc on communities and are the center of news.
This is where good planning and the ability to pivot when needed comes into place. Working with a team of PR experts can guide you through risk planning and help find a way to make your story relevant during difficult times.
Remember, getting press coverage for your startup takes time, effort, and persistence. Be strategic, be patient, and be persistent in your outreach efforts. Focus on relationship building for long-term partnerships with media. With the right approach, you can increase your startup's visibility and attract attention from the media, potential customers, and investors.