Last week, I talked about when startups should leverage public relations to reach out to reporters and bloggers (The answer: when they’re ready).
Today, let’s look at what a startup needs to do to drive PR outreach.
1. Develop a compelling, interesting, unique or different story. The goal is coming up with a story that will grab the attention of reporters and bloggers, who get inundated with pitches. It could be something easy such as a financing but often startups are looking to put the spotlight on their product. In this case, a startup has to create a narrative that will capture the spotlight, even if the product plays a secondary role. For example, it could mean latching on to a trend or a news development that would see the startup be part of the story but not the story. Another angle is using the background of the founders to create an interesting story.
2. Put together a list of reporters and bloggers to target. It is important to think about the different kind of reporters who might be interested in your story. For example, a story about a new online restaurant discovery service may appeal to technology, lifestyle, city and food reporters and bloggers. It means tweaking the pitch to meet the interests of each different segment.
3. Get to really know your targets. Building a list of the reporters and bloggers who might cover your startup is the easy part. The challenge is doing enough research to personalize each pitch to meet their specific interests. It means reading articles and blog posts written by each reporter or blogger so you’re familiar with their focus, the types of stories they like to write, and what they have written about recently. This will let you create a pitch that shows you’ve done your homework and, as important, you’re not wasting someone’s time with a pitch that will fail to resonate.
3A. Develop real-world relationships by meeting reporters and bloggers. It could be for a coffee, or at an event or conference. It could start by following them on Twitter or commenting on their stories or blog posts. Whatever the approach, you want to establish a relationship that can be built upon. Truth be told, reporters and bloggers are more inclined to write about people they know so get to know them.
4. Get the right help to give your pitch a fighting chance. As I mentioned above, relationships matter so, in some cases, you may want to “rent” relationships by hiring a PR firm to craft and deliver your pitch. What you’re buying is their Rolodex, and access to people who will give them the time of day to look at a pitch that would otherwise be ignored. Look at PR as an investment as opposed to a cost. The most important consideration is finding a PR partner who knows the people you want to reach and has knowledge of your industry.
5. Don’t give up if you pitch falls flat. There are many reasons why a reporter or blogger will take a pass that has nothing to do with how interesting they find your startup. It may be a busy day or it may not be the right fit. If you’ve done your homework, it makes sense to maintain a dialogue with a reporter or blogger to stay in their universe. If could mean, for example, sending them a note if a story breaks that involves your industry in which you can offer some insight or commentary. In other words, keep stoking the fires. As well, recognize that PR outreach is an art as opposed to science. There’s no formula that will guarantee coverage so don’t expect instant success simply because you’re doing outreach to reporters and bloggers.
What kind of other PR outreach tips would you offer startups? What techniques have worked particularly well for you?