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Saturday, May 26, 2012

How to Get Press Coverage for Your Startup

How to Get Press Coverage for Your Startup:

How to Get Press Coverage for Your Startup

If you build it, they will come – right?!  Unfortunately, in the hyper-competitive world of business startups, simply building a product that’s jam-packed with exceptional value isn’t enough to guarantee success.  You’ve got to promote your business – and that often comes down to leveraging press relationships to drive media coverage of your products or services.
It’s not always glamorous, but it is essential – as one single mention on a popular blog or news site in your industry can result in a tremendous amount of new users and investor interest.  So if you haven’t yet tackled this area of startup operation, here’s a quick primer on how to build press coverage for your startup:
Step #1 – Get in the habit of thinking in numbers
News sites love numbers.  They know that their readers are drawn to news articles featuring lists of items, statistics or other quantified information – which means they’re ultimately going to be more receptive to story pitches based around some demonstrable number.
So before you even begin courting media attention, start by determining what variables within your business can be quantified.  Can you rephrase the advantages of your product or service in a numerical way?  Instead of simply saying that your startup saves users time or money, put these assertions into numbers.  In general, saying “My product is guaranteed to cut the time needed to complete a task by 50% or more” is much more effective than “My product will save you time.”
If you don’t have elements in your business that can be quantified yet, start to think about how you might repackage your product so that it’s benefits and features are more readily apparent through the use of numbers.  Doing so won’t just help you build media attention for your company – it’ll make it far easier for your marketing activities to bring on new customers as well!
Step #2 – Begin building industry connections now
Even if you’re not ready to promote your startup yet, you can start laying the groundwork for future press coverage by building connections within the media industry as soon as possible.  In general, we’re all more likely to do business with those we know and trust – and this goes double for media writers!
To start, you’ll want to determine which industry connections will be most beneficial to your growing company.  Unfortunately, if you’re a young business, you simply might not have the clout to get featured on Mashable, TechCrunch or other heavy hitters.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t pick out 2-5 growing websites within your industry that receive decent traffic as a starting point!
Once you’ve picked out these websites, look for the pages that feature author bios for all the contributing writers on the site.  Sort through these lists to find the ones that might be most interested in your press releases, as you’ll generally have better luck pitching to individual writers than you will to the overall editorial department on the website.
Finally, take the time to connect with your chosen writers by leaving comments on their stories and interacting with them on social media sites.  At first, your goal shouldn’t be to solicit press coverage, so be casual, informal and friendly in your interactions.  At this point, your only goal is to start building the relationships you’ll be able to leverage in the future when you’re ready to receive media attention.
Step #3 – Pitch, pitch and pitch some more!
While it’s tempting to believe that your startup is so revolutionary and its benefits so clearly established that any writers or reporters will be falling all over themselves to break your new story, the reality is that media personnel are bombarded by pitches day-in and day-out.  But while you certainly won’t hit a home run with every press release you send out, there are a few things you can do to increase your odds of getting covered:
  • Save your press releases for truly important events – Because media professionals are sent so many press releases and press inquiries every day, you’ll want yours to stand out.  And – news flash – you aren’t going to stand out as being truly exceptional if you release notices about every small tweak you make to your product!  Instead, wait until you have a really important story or update to share before contacting the media.
  • Focus on how your release benefits the news outlet – To increase your odds of generating press coverage for your product, be abundantly clear about how your product benefits readers of your chosen media sites.  The writers at these websites care about providing valuable content to their readers, so you’ll ultimately be much more successful if you can show how sharing your product update benefits their visitors than if you focus on how the increased exposure will help your business.
  • Don’t be “that guy” – Media writers are busy people, so if you’re constantly emailing stories, requesting updates or otherwise badgering them, you can forget about your chances of getting covered!  For best results, be respectful of your contacts’ time and be helpful and polite in your interactions.
  • Get used to rejection – Not every media site you contact with your press releases is going to jump on the chance to showcase your product or service’s new features.  In fact, you’ll probably receive far more rejections than you do picked-up stories.  Don’t let this discourage you – simply get used to receiving rejection notices and move on to the next media contact on your list.
  • Offer exclusivity – Finally, one way to “sweeten the deal” and increase your odds of having your press releases published is to offer a website exclusivity in publishing your update.  To protect yourself, be very clear about the terms of your offer, including how long the site will have to respond and how long they’ll have exclusive coverage, if accepted.
Although this might all sound tedious, you’ll be amazed at how quickly things can snowball in the world of press coverage.  A few quick mentions on growing industry sites might be all your company needs to secure complete articles on top-tier sites, which can translate to some serious benefits in terms of increased sales, subscribers and investment for your growing business.
Image: NSNewsflash
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