3 Fundamentals Learned the Hard Way About Generating PR for a Startup
PR is an important channel to get the word out about your startup. It not only is a way to get more customers, but it is also important for recruiting, business development, fundraising and your overall company morale.
Although it can be a difficult channel to crack initially if you decide to do it on your own, it is very much possible to get good media coverage without hiring any agency. Journalists want to write good stories and most of them welcome pitches through cold mails. You just need to pitch them the right way to get their attention.
When you’re pitching, make sure you keep following points in mind:
Personalize Your Pitch
Remember this: news-outlets don’t write about your startup, it is the individual writers that do. All of them have different areas of interest. Before pitching to anyone, read what topics they write about in their bio. Read their previous articles before deciding whether they are right fit for you or not. Then send them your personalized pitch, one journalist at a time.
In the beginning, I used to make a huge list of journalists and send a common mail to all the them without taking time to personalize the pitch. It was the worst mistake that I made. Not surprisingly, I never got any write-ups from it. Journalists get hundreds of pitches every day. They can easily identify whether you have taken time to craft your pitch for them. You’ll have to be extremely lucky to get any response through this approach.
It’s far better to take time to send your ‘personalized’ pitch to a few journalists who you know write about a topic than to “spray and pray” to a huge, unqualified list. Also, you are bound to make funny mistakes like this if you try mass emails:
Pitch begins: "Hello Kevin"— Alice Truong (@alicetruong) August 20, 2014
Share Facts, Not Opinions
We all know the importance of sharing stories rather than just product features. But it’s far more important to back what you are saying with proof. Saying ‘our conversion improved by 500%’ will always work better than saying ‘our conversion improved dramatically’.
Journalists love facts, numbers, proofs. You’ll have a much better chance of getting their attention if you share those in your pitch.
Related: Tips for Pitching the Media
Your startup might be the biggest thing in your life, but to convey this emotion to others you need to back your story with hard numbers. This is very well captured in a tweet by Lora Kolodny of WSJ:
Protip: you want people to know yr biz is a-ma-zing, growing like crazy? Give names, facts & numbers to back it up.— Lora Kolodny (@lorakolodny) August 22, 2014
Last, but not the least, give journalists some time to respond. Hundreds of startups are out there, as interested in getting some coverage as you are. The more popular the blog, the fiercer the competition to get in.
So, if you have done the above two things right, you have a much better probability of getting a positive reply. But you have to wait and give them some time to respond. Mailing them frequently will annoy them, as shared by The Next Web’s Natt Garun:
How to get banned forever: Pitch a non-timely story 48 hours ago, follow up four times. GURL BYE— Natt Garun (@nattgarun) July 24, 2014
It’s a good idea to wait for a couple of days before you send a reminder email. If you don’t hear after a reminder as well, move on to the next person. Tweak your pitch, if you think it’s necessary, then send it to another journalist.
Now get yourself out there and get your startup covered! If you have made it to here, you have much better chances of success.