Whether you are launching your startup’s alpha, beta, or finished product, the splash you make in the media will be determined by the effort and preparation you put into it. No matter if you are well past seed stage or are already focusing on your Series C raise, garnering press coverage is a marathon that requires consistency and thought. The following three tips will help get you started on your journey.
1.) Determine What’s Newsworthy
For your startup, every win may feel important enough to reach out to TechCrunch or Fast Company to celebrate your success. However, take a step back and consider the interests of those outside your own company. If you are early stage and want to announce the launch of your beta, think, “is this the kind of story a major publication will want to feature?” The answer? Probably not. However, that doesn't mean a local organization, blogger, or influencer won't find it interesting enough to cover. Consider the value they get from sharing your news. Get granular with the outlets you want to reach and research the audiences they serve. Building your reputation through niche outlets establishes authority and legitimacy for your business as you work toward the larger media channels.
2.) Create Good Content Before You Ask To Be Written About
If you submit a press release about successfully finishing a prototype, and lead visitors to a half-completed website and sparse social media--don't be surprised when you don't get a response. It isn't enough to want to be featured; you need to show consistency in your presence online and in the content you produce. Not sure where to start? Early blog posts could include insights on your industry, advice, or perspective on current events that are trending. Whether you post once a day or once a week, building a body of content shows media outlets that you engage with your audience and contribute to the greater community. Put yourself in the shoes of the blogger or journalist you want writing about you. If your site and social media following need more work to appear robust and legitimate, take the time to build up your catalog of content. News travels fast. It also leaves a trail online that is hard to erase. Don't rush toward big media coverage until you are ready to handle it.
3.) Specificity is Key
Once you've established your presence online and have a newsworthy story, be prepared to write a lot of emails. You won't copy and paste much since each subject line you write will be tailored for each recipient. In the subject line, mentioning exclusives or embargoes (*this is when you can't offer an exclusive to a single outlet, but set an agreed upon date for all outlets when it is ok to publish) may help you get higher profile coverage. However, just remember that once you offer an exclusive, your story will be unavailable to shop around until you get a firm yes or no. In the body of the email, make it clear in a few short sentences what the value of your story is to the outlets audience and include all of the information they'll need such as social media, links, and any images you are providing. If you don't get a response, be persistent and follow-up. Writers can be found one way or another through the publications they write for, their social media, or sometimes even a personal website.