Contrary to what many say about the media these days, a great story authored by the right reporter can be a boon for your startup or small business. Whether you aim to elevate awareness, launch a new product or service offering, announce a fundraising event or release interesting data, the media is there to help you tell your story.
In a previous article, we covered competitive and subject matter media analysis. The piece outlined the importance of creating a media list populated with relevant reporters who are writing about the market you operate in. This is of the utmost importance. Reporters get hundreds of emails a day from businesses looking to be covered in the publications they write for. Reaching out to the wrong set of reporters will sink your message into the abyss with no media coverage to boot.
While there is never a guarantee that even the right reporter will cover a story, there are a few key things to keep in mind to better your chances of success with media coverage.
What is the right story and when is the right time?
It would be great to say that telling the right story is entirely up to you. It is your company, you’re the boss and you call the shots. Unfortunately, in the media world, these truths hold very little weight. You must remember that these journalists are in charge and they are responsible for writing pieces that will resonate with their audience.
Let’s say that you are a startup company with very little traction in the marketplace. Maybe you have a few customers using a new product or service that you have developed and feel ready to tell the world about what makes this product different and better than what the competition is offering. It seems simple right? Write a press release, use the list you’ve worked so hard to pull together, and send out your release. Soon, reporters will be banging down your door clamoring to tell your story. In a world where reporters get hundreds of emails a day, you must find a way to break through.
Here are some tips for rising above the excessive email and phone chatter that pummels reporters daily and will help to make you stand out from the others vying for coverage:
Different, defensive, disruptive, direct
We’ve talked about these terms previously, but they are always worth repeating. It is important that any communication to reporters defines what makes your startup’s product or service different, how you defend that differentiation, and what is disruptive about what you are offering. All of this has to be said in the most direct way and devoid of any buzzwords or statements that cannot be validated. You can read more about this concept here.
Harness the success of your existing customer base
The customer is king and a testimonial will often help to support the statements you are making in any press release. If possible, pair your announcement with a case study that outlines the challenges your customer was facing, how your solution helped to address those challenges and the success that was achieved. And whenever possible, use numbers to back up any claims.
Timing is everything
Reporters follow trends and news cycles. As you prepare to make your announcement, do your best to tie it back to what is happening in the world and/or your marketplace. For example, a streaming radio company was looking to promote their technology, which is used by smaller broadcasters globally and is listened to by diaspora communities worldwide. The team was able to use the technology to track immigration and migration patterns to see where people are listening from. They looked at the listening patterns of various migrant communities globally, tied it back to the changes in immigration laws in the U.S., and specifically noted how there was an increase in streaming audio listeners from Haiti in Chile. Haitians that often migrated to the U.S. through countries like Mexico were now settling in Chile and listening to their hometown stations in Haiti via streaming audio.
This interesting data helped to attract the attention of reporters, produce a story that highlighted the technology, and ultimately raised awareness for the company. This is just one example of creative thinking and using current events to attract the attention of reporters.
It’s time for you to start thinking in a similar fashion and looking for trends to hitch your own wagon to. It’s always important to remember that PR is a drumbeat, and not a drumroll. Don’t expect to go out with an announcement and win big with the media immediately.
While a reporter may not respond after your first or second outreach, if you continue to share relevant stories to the right reporters, at one point, your message will resonate and your story will hit.