How to Get Press for Your Startup
There are few things as exciting in the startup world as the media finally discovering you. It's a sign that you're doing something right, which can lead to many new interest and users. But getting coverage isn't always easy. Here's how to get reporters excited about your story and make sure they're writing about you.
Reach out to reporters
The first and most crucial step is to reach out to reporters. Look for reporters who cover your industry and build relationships with them before you need their help. If you find a reporter who likes your story and product, they'll be more likely to write about it when the time comes.
Don't spam reporters with the same email repeatedly; try something new each time. The worst thing that can happen is that a reporter gets annoyed by your emails and refuses to write about your brand in the future because of it—and there are plenty of other sites out there looking for interesting stories!
Share your company's story
For a journalist to write about your company, they need to understand what it is you do and why it’s different from the competition. Use this opportunity to share your story. Explain how your startup came about, why you started it, and what problem does it solve for customers? What is the mission of your company? How do you make money or plan on making money? What sets you apart from other similar companies in the same space?
Avoid press stunts
- Don't do anything that makes you look bad. Press stunts are a great way to get attention, but they can also backfire. Suppose your company does something that makes it appear negative or ridiculous in the eyes of the public. In that case, you'll have a hard time getting anyone to take your business seriously again.
- Don't try to be funny. Sometimes, people attempt press stunts because they think it will help them stand out from other startups and appear more appealing—but this isn't always true! While having some humor in your pitch can definitely help break down barriers between reporters and founders, making jokes at the expense of your brand is just going to make reporters feel awkward around you in future meetings.
- Don't try to be controversial to get press without planning out how this will affect your overall goal as a startup founder. Don't use an unnecessarily controversial statement just because you think it will get more attention (and thus more PR). For example: if someone writes an article about how millennials need more job training programs before entering into the workforce, don’t respond by saying, “Millennials are lazy and entitled!
Find a good reason to respond to the news
Your first step should be to figure out what you have to say. If a reporter asks you for a statement, do they want it because they really care or because it's the only thing on your mind? Press releases are often sent out without a clear understanding of how the news will be interpreted or whether it's relevant at all. If you send out a press release about an amazing new product and there is no mention of this product in the article, then your investment of time and effort into creating the release has been wasted—not only did you not get any press coverage, but also now people know that you're willing to create fake news just so that they will write about your company.
It's far better if reporters are interested enough in writing about your company as well as talking with its founders before asking them for quotes than if they ask after receiving an uninteresting email blast full of empty promises and buzzwords (e.g., "innovative"/"disruptive").
Cut through the noise with compelling visuals
One of the best ways to cut through the noise and get press for your startup is to use compelling images. Your visual messaging will be one of the first things journalists see, so it’s important to make sure those images are good and relevant.
It’s important that you use professional-looking images — ideally taken by a photographer rather than yourself or one of your co-founders using their smartphone. If you can afford it, hire a professional photographer who will provide high quality photos that are appropriate for media outlets like The New York Times or TIME magazine (if they were willing). You can also shoot video footage with a crew as well as still photos if necessary. When choosing what photos to submit, include your logo or product image, but remember: keep everything simple! Don’t overdo it on the graphics — make sure each image looks professional and visually interesting enough for journalists looking at hundreds of emails every day from startups who want publicity coverage in their publications (or blogs).
Make sure it's worth the time and money
While getting press is an important part of your company's marketing, it's not a worthwhile endeavor if the reporter you're pitching doesn't understand your business or isn't interested in covering it. So before you start crafting an email pitch for a reporter who writes about technology, make sure that reporter actually covers technology.
If you don't know where to start, use tools like Google News or Muckrack (an open source tool) to search for journalists who have written articles related to your industry and see who regularly covers topics that are similar to yours. If they cover tech, check out their previous work and see if they're writing about things similar enough that they'll be interested in what you have to say.
If the answer is yes—and they fit into one of several categories listed above—it's time to start drafting an email pitch!
Reporters can help tell your startup's story, but only with a good pitch and follow-up
You’re not the only one who wants to get the word out about your startup. Reporters are also looking to tell a good story, and they can help you do that—but only with a good pitch and follow-up.
You’ve probably heard it before: reporters are busy people. They want your pitch to stand out from all of the other pitches they receive, because if you don’t make an impression on them with your initial email or phone call, there won't be much room for negotiation later on. And even if there is room for negotiation in their schedule, most editors would rather spend time working on their own stories rather than having someone else write theirs (unless those stories need more reporting).
In order to get noticed by reporters as well as editors (whom you will likely end up pitching), think about why this story matters now more than ever before? What makes it relevant? If it's something new or innovative then show how this idea has potential impact in terms of its potential users/customers (i.e., what problem does it solve?)
We hope this article has given you some ideas for how to get more press for your startup. Remember, it’s not always easy. It takes time, hard work and perseverance to get coverage from the media. And even then, there are no guarantees that any one reporter will like your story enough to write about it. But with these tips in mind, there’s no reason why you can’t make a go of it!