In the final weeks leading up to your startup launch, glorious visions of Mashable.com celebrity cloud your brain. You see a snappy headline announcing your concept to the world, and thousands of retweets and “Likes” on the post. Your logo gleams across the homepages of TechCrunch and Venture Beat, and you finally get to enjoy some global recognition for all your hard work. This is sweet, sweet startup success.
If you can envision it, you can have it. Even a single mention on a popular blog or news site “can result in a tremendous amount of new users and investor interest” (McCann). In today’s competitive startup environment, media recognition is available to those who actively pursue it. Mashable journalists won’t come to you. So let’s get the good press for ourselves. Here are 5 easy PR tips to help you get started.
1. Prepare a concise summary of your business concept
Both journalists and readers crave bite-sized information. With a one-or-two sentence summary of your concept (free from tech jargon), you can quickly communicate a relevant news pitch to any audience. “Journalists get tons of pitches every day,” says Mashable contributor Erica Swallow, “it’s very likely that the journalist you’re pitching will only read the first few sentences of your email.” Make it count.
2. Target industry-related journalists
Go for journalists who cover the news that appeals to your product demographic. So this might take some research: a Google search or two. Twitter is also an easy-to-use and free tool to help you uncover journalists who know what’s up in your industry. So even if you’re pursuing across-the-board tech fame, do your homework and initiate conversations with journalists who share an interest in topics relevant to your product or service. Prepare a shortlist to make the process more manageable.
3. Climb the social ladder
Start at the bottom rung of interaction with these journalists, and work your way up. Read their recently published articles online, and add thoughtful input to the comment sections. After establishing a presence through their articles, start following them on Twitter. Maintain a friendly, casual dialogue here until you’re ready to make the next step: LinkedIn. With a LinkedIn connection, you can email them pitches for news ideas and be welcomed as a social connection. Your approach should be friendly and personal. Establish trust by climbing the social ladder, and you’ll better your chances of having your pitch heard.
4. Make your own news
So your business concept is fresh and unique? Journalists see hundreds of them every week. Bolster your startup launch with more to offer, like a whitepaper or infographic with intriguing information about your demographic or industry.
If you can compile data numerically (“67% of users agree…”), do it. “News sites love numbers,” offers McCann, “they know that their readers are drawn to news articles featuring lists of items, statistics or other quantified information-which means they’re ultimately going to be more receptive to story pitches based around some demonstrable number.”
Offer insight into your business development process, and share what you’ve learned in an engaging, “newsy” story. Provide headline and sub-headline suggestions so the journo can imagine what it would look like on the page.
5. Play it cool
“Don’t be ‘that guy’,” says McCann, “media writers are busy people, so if you’re constantly emailing stories, requesting updates, or otherwise badgering them, you can forget about your chances of being covered!”
Save your news pitches for truly valuable events, instead of CC’ing your journalist target list every time you fix a bug or alter your design layout. As a general mantra for content marketing online, stick to quality over quantity.
It’s a scramble to the finish line during those last few weeks before a startup launch. Getting media coverage from journalists in your industry need not add to the stress. Remember, “climbing the social ladder” on the Internet happens much faster than it would in a person-to-person networking scenario. We work and live in a rapid-fire communication era, and connections build quickly.
With these tips, you can save time stressing and spend more time actively engaging the news outlets that could make a positive impact on your startup launch.
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McCann, T.A. “How to Get Press Coverage for Your Startup.” 22 May 2012. Gist.com: http://blog.gist.com/2012/05/22/how-to-get-press-coverage-for-your-startup/
Swallow, Erica. “10 Essential PR Tips for Startups.” 10 October 2011. Mashable.com: http://mashable.com/2011/10/10/pr-startups/