Getting the attention of the media is quite a challenge for most companies, especially startups as they usually don’t have the budget to hire an agency or a PR representative.
Press relations can be highly beneficial for your business as it can help with increasing the credibility of your team, building the image of your brand, raising awareness, and more.
Here are 8 tips to get press coverage without any budget:
Tip 1: Find your story
Even though you may be an early stage startup and may not even have a prototype yet, trust me, you have a story to tell. You need to find something that makes you special. It could be your team expertise or profiles, a gap you found in the market, a new technology you use, or the values of your brand.
Whoever you are and whatever you do, you can always find an angle!
Still nothing? Then it’s your job to create something special about your company; for example: build the most multi-cultural team, commit to gender equality, equal pay (it’s less common than you think!), work with a charity, prioritize well-being at work or sustainability… Just do it! Find your story and get ready to tell the world about it.
Tip 2: Build your profile
Before pitching the media, you need to build your profile. Why? Cause nobody wants to talk about someone who is a “nobody”. You may not have achieved much to date but in the world of business, it’s all about perceptions. You and your company need to become “someone”. How?
Seize any opportunity you can get. Awards applications, public speaking, events attendance… And if you can’t find any, make it happen! Create your own event, meet-up, make it educational so that you deliver value and share about it on social media. It will make you appear as an expert and an authority in your field. It will show that you’re “someone”. And let’s be honest, organizing a meetup doesn’t cost you more than a few beers, some nibbles, and a PowerPoint presentation… It’s your turn to drop the mic!
Tip 3: Do research
In order to wisely target the right publications, you need to ask yourself where you’d like to see your company being portrayed, and above all, where your company should be portrayed. You’re thinking, “But what’s the difference?”
The difference is that you might want to get into a publication because you think it’s cool, but it might not serve your company. For example, you might want to get into the Metro newspaper though your objective is to raise credibility within your industry and attract other businesses to get new partners or investors on board. Got it?
Before choosing the publications, you need to ask yourself these 3 questions:
- What is my objective? Raise funds? Build my image? Recruit Talents? Find new partners?
- How can I achieve it? Build credibility? Make an impact? Share my values? Earn industry’s trust?
- What does my target audience read? Business media? Consumer media? HR media? Industry news?
Only once you’ve answered these 3 questions you can elaborate a strategy to follow and goals to reach.
Tip 4: Give before asking
Make yourself useful before asking for something. Set up as a source on platforms like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) or Qwoted, which are free to use. You can receive daily queries from journalists and answer them with your expertise, experience, and opinions. It’s a win-win as the journalists can then use your statement as a quote in their article and you get free coverage!
In my experience, if you pitch yourself well and your statement is interesting, educational, bold, and not self-promotional, you have a 50% chance to get quoted. It’s worth a try!
Some journalists post queries regularly so it’s a good way for you to get in touch with them and slowly build a relationship.
Tip 5: Create your press pack
If you don’t know how to google it! You can easily find templates of press packs on the internet.
A press pack (or press kit) is a document that usually contains a presentation of your business, a portrait of the Founder, some case studies and/or industry facts if relevant, the latest press releases and a few pictures/visuals.
While writing your press pack, remember to stay objective, structured, add quotes, your sources, and keep it easy to read (unless you’re in a very technical industry). Don’t forget that it’s not an advertising piece, so stick to the facts!
Tip 6: Pitch the right way
You’ve got your elevator pitch nailed? It’s time to write it down!
Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day, so if you want yours to make the cut, your pitch has to be interesting, impactful, and straight to the point.
- Use bullet points
- Highlight some words
- Make your email easy to read with all the essential information.
You didn’t get a reply? Don’t hesitate to follow up and ask for feedback to make sure they received your email and that your pitch was relevant to what they write about. The last thing you want to do is wasting their time and yours.
Tip 7: Choose the right time
Some publications have months of the waiting list, so you know what to do… Anticipate!
Ask publications on their editorial calendar, look at the topics, the deadlines, and see how you could fit in.
Try to pitch journalists early in the mornings (6 to 8 am) and preferably Monday to Thursday.
Your launching a product? Send your press release one to two days before to give journalists the time to schedule their article on the D-day.
Keep in mind Bank Holidays (in your country & abroad), time zones, and don’t forget to watch the news; you’re less likely to get the attention of the media if all they’re covering is Brexit or Covid-19.
Tip 8: Start small & use your network
What matters is to start somewhere. PR can have a domino effect in a way that once you’ve got a foot in the door, you’re basically ready to take off.
Reach out to local newspapers and radios who might be interesting in showcasing success stories and entrepreneurs in their area.
Don’t be scared to ask your network! We all know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows a journalist (and if you’re lucky this sentence will be shorter). Most of the time, people are actually happy to help so don’t be shy to ask.
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