For many startups, getting the attention of bloggers and the media is seen as a valuable way to build their brands and attract users. But it’s surprising to see many startups drop the ball because they don’t know how to craft pitches or approach bloggers and reporters.
Here are five tips on how to improve your chances of getting coverage:
1. Tell me a story: Too many startups believe what they’re doing and selling is the story. Unless your product or service compelling, unique or different, it is not an approach that will generate much interest. Instead, it is better to tell a story in which your startup plays a key role. This may mean positioning your startup as part of a bigger trend, and it could even see you mention rivals to provide the story with context and perspective. A story can be enhanced by giving bloggers and reporters material such as videos, a fact sheet, links to Web sites, or a case study.
Tip: Keep your pitch short and snappy – bloggers and reporters are inundated with pitches and time-strapped so a pitch that looks like work will get quickly spiked.
2. Build relationships with bloggers and reporters: It sounds straightforward but bloggers and reporters are people so it’s important to build relationships, be they digital or real-world. Pitching someone you know is easier than pitching a stranger who has no idea about who you are or what you do.
So how do you build relationships? It can happen by commenting on their articles or posts, sending them an email about a post or story they wrote, or an idea for a story, introducing yourself at a conference, or asking them for a quick coffee. At the end of the day, bloggers and reporters are biased to write about people they know so establishing a relationship is important.
Tip: If you don’t have relationships with bloggers or media, consider hiring a PR agency which knows the people you want to reach.
3. Take a targeted and focused approach: It’s a quality versus quantity proposition. While it’s easy to blast a pitch to dozens or hundreds of bloggers and reporters, it can be a lot more effective (and less time-consuming) to focus on the people who are the most attractive, interesting and important targets, as well as the most likely to write about your startup. In some cases, it could be only 15 to 20 people, but by taking a focused approach, you can do a better job of delivering a more effective pitch.
Tip: Create and maintain a blogger/reporter database to make it easier to put together an outreach list when it’s needed.
4. Do your homework: There is nothing that says “delete” than a pitch from someone who hasn’t done their homework. You’d be surprised by how many pitches I get from startups or companies that clearly have no idea about my focus or interests. To improve your chances of success, do some research on the topics that a blogger or reporter writes covers. Read some of their posts or stories, and check out their social media activity to get more insight into their interests.
Tip: Personalize the pitch by using a blogger or reporter’s first name. Nothing says I didn’t do my homework as an email that starts with “Blogger” or “Media”.
5. Be realistic: It is important to remember that no matter how interesting your pitch, there are many other startups also seeking the spotlight. Truth be told, attracting blog and media coverage is a combination of preparation, timing and luck. Sometimes, you happen to be at the right place at the right time. It is not a scientific proposition that guarantees success by simply following the right steps, so it is healthy not to have expectations that are too high.
Tip: It is important to put things in context. While blog and media coverage is great, it is just one part of an effective marketing and sales strategy. You can attract amazing coverage but fail as a business, or attract no media coverage but be a wild success.