How to Know If Your Startup Story Is Worth Pitching to Journalists
All stories fall under one category of public relations and that affects the way the story is pitched.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Public relations, also known as PR, gets a bad reputation among professionals, and in most case, rightfully so. More often than not, PR professionals, or so they call themselves focus on simple outreach to journalists, when in reality, it is there job to help define and frame a story, build the campaign strategy, do the outreach, follow up, and own the story. There is a lot more to good PR than most people realize.
The very first step in a successful PR campaign is defining which of the following four categories your story falls under:
It's a cool story but the press won't think so.
Listen, I don't know how to tell you this, but the fact that your app was downloaded 100 times is really not press-worthy, so don't even bother. Now, here is the thing. You will have many stories over the life of your company that you are very proud of. You will hit milestones, you will hire rock stars, and you will accomplish goals. These are all things you should be proud of, but the press, in some of these cases, could not care less.
In those cases, when you have a story you want to get out there, but the press most likely won't report it, using the wire, services that distribute your story, is a good compromise. There are many wire services so do your research, choose one, and use it often. Sometimes, the fact that there is so much activity from your company, even if the stories aren't huge, leaves an impact and makes a positive impression on your target audience.
When the press is writing their story, you are the one they need to speak to.
I call this "Opportunity PR". If you are a company in, for instance, the video space, making sure that journalists are aware of your existence is important for many reasons. One positive outcome of making sure you are on the radar of journalists is that when that person is writing a piece on video tech, they include you and sometimes even reach out for a quote.
This of course helps you further establish your brand as an authority, which is the point of the whole PR thing in the first place. Social media is a good way to build those relationships and increase your brand awareness.
It is big enough for the press, but not all the press.
Then there is this type of story. You raised a round of financing, but unlike your competitors who are raising millions, you raised $200,000. I think we can both agree that massive publications are not going to cover this story, nor is it a good idea to pitch it to everyone.
Find the relevant journalist, ask them about the story, and consider giving them an exclusive, which might be an incentive for them to cover it. Of course, by offering an exclusive, you also strengthen that relationship, which might lead to more press in the future.
This story is a whopper and you need to go far and wide.
Finally, the dream story. You raised $100m, acquired a company, or launched a company that will bring world peace. Well, this is a story everyone in your niche should theoretically cover if you communicate it effectively.
Write the release under embargo, build your media list, reach out, follow up, and communicate with your target journalists in a professional manner. Remember, a journalist reports good stories, which means they need you just like you need them. Feed a journalist a good story, which they then report, and that is what is called a mutually beneficial situation also known as "Win win".