Get All Access for $5/mo

How to Use Small Media to Build Your Brand Your job as a new company is to get your brand everywhere in the least amount of time.

By Mark Macias Edited by Russell Sicklick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Building a brand from scratch is never easy. But, there are missteps that can definitely make your path more difficult. It's hard enough standing out as a startup. But if you make these mistakes — from my perspective -— you are sabotaging your brand on day one.

Let me start with a conversation I often hear with startups: Are we making a mistake by giving an interview to this smaller media outlet? Shouldn't we wait for a bigger media outlet to give this exclusive interview to?

On the surface, it sounds rational. If something is scarce, it's historically more in-demand. But that doesn't apply to branding, especially in the early startup stages. And unless you're Jeff Bezos or Marc Lore, you shouldn't be offering up exclusives as a startup. Your job as a new company is to get your brand everywhere in the least amount of time.

Related: Is Your Brand Ready for Public Relations and Press?

In February, we launched a media campaign for a digital health startup. Their CEO is fairly experienced and successfully sold his previous company for over $1 billion. That's great from a PR perspective. He has credibility as an entrepreneur, making our job easier.

And we got interest in his story out of the gate. Writers and editors with Benefits Pro,, Forbes, StrictlyVC, Biz Journals, Stat News, Pharmacy Times, Pharma Shots, Popular Science, Fierce Healthcare and ZDNet all expressed interest or asked to speak with the founder. Yet this CEO turned down the majority of these interviews because he thought the publications were too small. I won't share our internal conversations, but this approach created self-imposed obstacles.

If you're a startup, you should be accepting all media opportunities — big and small. You haven't earned the right to be picky. Your story hasn't been told as a startup and every media opportunity is a chance to scale your brand. These news stories also help your website with SEO.

How smaller publications help build your brand

Let me use StrictlyVC as an example. If you're a startup trying to raise money from investors, or get on the radar of VCs, your targeted audience will be reading outlets like StrictlyVC. Sure, StrictlyVC has a smaller reach — less than 50 thousand readers/month, compared to VentureBeat, which reaches roughly two million visitors/month. But I guarantee you, writers and editors are reading stories published by their competitors. It's a part of their job to know what the competition is writing. And by speaking with smaller publications, like StrictlyVC, you are effectively pitching the larger outlets, like Venturebeat, at the same time.

A common excuse I hear for rejecting interviews is the CEO is too busy. If the CEO is busy, find a new person within the company to speak with the reporter. That's called delegating.

Again, sticking with a real-life example to demonstrate the why. In the case of this digital health startup, the editor of Pharmacy Times was intrigued with the storyline we pushed and asked to speak with the CEO. We coordinated the interview, but unfortunately, the CEO missed the interview. A few days later, he said he didn't want to do the interview because he thought the publication was too small after looking at their website.

Don't judge a media outlet solely on its website design

MSN, Yahoo and others frequently pick up stories from smaller news outlets and publish them on their home page. And I'm not talking about stories in Google News or Yahoo News. I'm describing stories where Yahoo News places its logo on the story and syndicates it to consumers who have a specific interest in this topic. Think Yahoo Lifestyle or MSN Money. If you look there today, you will see many stories from smaller publications featured prominently.

This syndication approach also applies to TV. If your publicist secures a segment booked on a TV station in St. Louis, don't assume that is a waste of time. Local features are placed on the affiliate feeds all the time and shared with the rest of the country. As a line producer in Phoenix, I turned to ABC NewsOne to find promotable ideas. Sometimes the syndicated story was cut down to a 45-second voice over. But it doesn't matter. This is additional exposure your brand needs at the start.

Related: 3 Secret PR Weapons To Help Build Your Brand

I might get some heat for saying this but you're not as big as you think. I don't want to sound disrespectful or condescending. I've just seen it. Brands aren't built in a month. Media coverage, along with a brand, are built over time. And if that's not enough reason, use these smaller outlets as an opportunity to perfect your messaging. The experience of speaking with more inexperienced writers at smaller publications will refine your storyline. These conversations will make you even more prepared for the day the larger publications want to interview you.

Related: The Top 7 PR Trends That Brands Should Care About Right Now

Mark Macias

Media Insider - Publicity Guru

Mark Macias is a former executive producer with NBC and senior producer with CBS in New York. He now runs his own public relations firm, MACIAS PR, which was named the 2015-2017 Financial PR Firm of the Year and the 2017-2019 Strategic PR Firm of the Year by marketing peers.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick


How to Close the Trust Gap Between You and Your Team — 5 Strategies for Leaders

Trust is tanking in your workplace. Here's how to fix it and become the boss your team needs to succeed.

Health & Wellness

Get a Year of Unlimited Yoga Class Downloads for Only $23 Through June 17

Regular exercise has been proven to increase energy and focus, both of which are valuable to entrepreneurs and well-known benefits of yoga.

Growing a Business

He Immigrated to the U.S. and Got a Job at McDonald's — Then His Aversion to Being 'Too Comfortable' Led to a Fast-Growing Company That's Hard to Miss

Voyo Popovic launched his moving and storage company in 2018 — and he's been innovating in the industry ever since.

Business News

'Passing By Wide Margins': Elon Musk Celebrates His 'Guaranteed Win' of the Highest Pay Package in U.S. Corporate History

Musk's Tesla pay package is almost 140 times higher than the annual pay of other high-performing CEOs.

Starting a Business

I Left the Corporate World to Start a Chicken Coop Business — Here Are 3 Valuable Lessons I Learned Along the Way

Board meetings were traded for barnyards as a thriving new venture hatched.

Business Culture

Why Remote Work Policies Are Good For the Environment

Remote work policies are crucial for ESG guidelines. Embracing remote work can positively impact your business and employees.