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5 Ways to Land Media Coverage for Your Startup Without Hiring a PR Firm

Make friends with journalists, and have a story to tell.
5 Ways to Land Media Coverage for Your Startup Without Hiring a PR Firm
Image credit: Microgen | Getty Images

Public relations firms can be essential partners in the success of your business. A good firm will help you position yourself in the market, create powerful brand stories and connect you with the right media outlets to increase the exposure of your company.

When you’re an early-stage startup with limited funding, having a PR firm on retainer is beyond your budget. Yet, creating buzz about your brand is often your primary objective.

Related: The New PR: 5 Content and News Distribution Strategies You Need to Master

Understanding how this industry works can make or break your company. After founding the Influencers Dinner one of the largest, private communities of influential people, I learned this firsthand. To experience the benefits of a PR firm without actually hiring one, you need to understand these five rules.

1. Make journalists connections long before you have a story to tell.

You want to begin by building trust and forming strong relationships with journalists. This will help you tell your story when you have one to share. Plus, journalists may offer insights and feedback on your startup. They tend to be fascinating people who are exposed to cutting-edge ideas.

Those who work in the media also approach each other for contacts and leads. The number of stories that have been written about me by contacts or referrals is far more than I’ve ever gotten on my own. It also led me to some of my closest friends.

2. Identify the specific niche for each journalist and media outlet.

Know your audience and how your story is valuable to the outlet. For instance, Entertainment Weekly doesn’t want to hear about your ad-tech startup. This doesn’t mean you should ignore those writers, as they may be able to pass your stories to their friends that work at other publications.

Related: Want to Stand Out in a Journalist's Crowded Inbox? There's an App for That.

3. Provide introductions and interesting story ideas.

Journalists are always looking for the newest and most remarkable stories. If you can provide them, it is a double win for you and your network. If journalists begin to see you as a great source of content, it will only serve you in the future when you have your own story to tell.

4. Keep a database of all the journalists that you meet.

Do you know which outlets they publish on and their personal contact information? Most journalists’ email addresses are publicly available and easy to find. In the early days of building my company, I would attend events for journalists just to meet them and understand how the industry works. I knew at some point there would be an important story to tell.

Related: How to Use Social Media as a Public Relations Tool

5. Be relevant.

Remember you need to have something that is remarkable or culturally relevant to talk about. Journalists may hear hundreds of pitches a day and will only choose a few of those to cover. They are faced with pressures to tell important stories that will get traffic. What you are pitching needs to be novel enough to pique their interest and relatable enough to their audience that it serves their readers. There are many ways that you can tell your story, so make sure the way that you spin it is relevant and valuable to the publication.

Getting press coverage and attention can be a major boost to your startup’s growth. It not only increases your visibility but adds credibility to your brand. With or without a PR firm, startups need to form relationships with journalists long before they need the exposure.    

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