Entrepreneurs must wear many hats, which sometimes means turning away from developing products to court the media for placements. Getting picked up by a major media outlet or industry-focused blog is hard work. Companies of all sizes struggle to get the media attention they think they deserve, but not all succeed.
It might not be a snap to get the perfect placement, but such media attention can have a huge impact on validating the brand image and driving visitors and conversions to your site.
Here are four insider tips from Rip Empson, a senior associate at Morgenthaler Ventures and former tech reporter, for creating pitches to wow reporters and get great coverage.
1. Enlist a supporter to pitch for you. “I barely ever covered a startup that cold-pitched me,” Empson says of being contacted out of the blue by companies hoping for an article. Instead, Empson was often pitched by an investor or public-relations professional who vouched for the company and gave him a reason to take notice.
While entrepreneurs think they can do it all, they’re often much too close to the puzzle to see how all the pieces fit together. This can make it difficult to effectively and efficiently explain their vision to outsiders.
Investors and public-relations pros, however, have the process down cold. They can explain the company’s mission statement and value proposition to intrigued reporters, and convert an idle curiosity into a burning need-to-know.
The key is to make sure the point-of-contact person between the company and reporter is knowledgeable, smart and genuinely passionate about what the company has to offer.
2. Engage users. “I wanted to cover startups that had a real differentiator,” Empson says. He further explains that he wasn’t always hung up on downloads, since the most compelling storylines often center around monthly users.
In other words, connect as closely and personally with users as possible.
Understand how the audience is using the product and what impact the company is having on their lives. Happy customers can be transformed into brand ambassadors, who can in turn make for a more compelling story once the company gets a reporter on the line.
3. Prove the company has legs. Empson explains he liked to write about under-the-radar companies doing well in a space. Reporters are looking to be on the ground floor of something new, exciting and special.
Once a company is financially stable and looks like the next big thing, reporters will start to take notice. Have a narrative in place. A good company with a great idea will attract media attention, but a company with imagination and a solid business plan will attract a lot of media attention.
4. Make a reporter’s life easy. Reporters don’t have much time, and they certainly don’t have the time to pick through an email, desperately trying to find the information they need to complete a piece. In this case, it’s far more likely for the reporter to scrap the story.
Empson notes he was always looking for a full package of information when he decided which companies to cover.
Present the reporter with everything they might need to know to write an article that will adequately portray the company and its product. Put together a full media kit, including images, tips, answers to the most frequently asked questions and even a press release giving reporters plenty of background information.
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