At a recent event, I was talking with a startup CEO about the success of some mobile apps he had developed.
“So, what’s the secret?,” I asked.
“Great coverage from blogs and the media,” he said.
“How do get them to write about you?,”, I asked.
“I email them. I’ve never used a PR agency,” he said.
Imagine that, an entrepreneur getting coverage by sending an email to a reporter or blogger. Who knew it could be that easy!
First, a few caveats. This particular entrepreneur has been around for a few years with a variety of startups, so the success of his approach is a result of a lot of legwork and relationship building. He’s also developed some interesting/news worthy applications.
That said, his ability to attract media and blog coverage should be inspiring and eye-opening to any entrepreneur, particularly those involved in an early-stage startup.
Truth be told, it’s difficult for early-stage startups to get media and blog coverage. There are so many other startups looking for attention that it’s hard to stand out, let alone convince a reporter or blogger to write about you. Second, you need to be a good storyteller, which is not part of many entrepreneurs’ skill set.
Yet, I believe a startup entrepreneur is the best person to get media and blog coverage – much better than PR agency/boutique.
Why? When an entrepreneur pitches a story, it comes across as more real and authentic. It’s a person building a business, not a hired PR gun. It’s an opportunity for an entrepreneur to establish a personal connection.
It is important for startup entrepreneurs to remember building relationships with reporters and bloggers can take time to develop. It’s like you can hit a home run out of the gate. As well, the initial goal may not be getting coverage. It can start with an invitation for coffee or offering some insight or information.
Another important consideration is making it personal. An entrepreneur needs to do their homework when approaching a reporter or blogger. They need to understand what someone writes about, their interests and how they want to be contacted. It also helps to have read someone’s articles or blogs to gain more knowledge and insight.
At the end of the day, getting coverage from reporters and bloggers can be the dividend from making a concerted, long-term investment. Having a good idea of who you want to target and how to connect with them sets the stage for an entrepreneur to establish a foothold, which could lead to coverage at some point.
One last note: While startups entrepreneurs can be effective PR conduits, there are definitely roles to be played by PR agencies, boutiques or individuals. At the right time, PR practitioners can play a key role in helping startups reach the right people to deliver relevant and interesting pitches.
When it comes down to it, the biggest value delivered by PR practitioners is their networks and connections. They can get a reporter or blogger to take a look at a pitch that otherwise would be quickly deleted or ignored.