🎶 I will remembeeeer youuu 🎶
Every day in America, 31 startups fail. It’s hard to say why – some due to lack of funding, some lack of a market, but in many cases, low or no awareness is a major part of the problem.
/Sarah McLaughlin voice
Startups are exciting. The possibilities are endless. Entrepreneurs think their company could change the world – and many of them are right. At one time, Uber, Dropbox, Google and Venmo were startups. Now they’re billion-dollar businesses. But for every unicorn, there are dozens upon dozens of failures. They fail for different reasons but one thing all startups need is media attention. How should you approach public relations as a startup? Let’s go!
Just like you target potential customers, spend time looking for influential reporters, bloggers and the outlets they represent. Cull that list to your top choices. Here are a few ingredients to a good list:
- Regionally diverse: local and national (even international if that’s relevant)
- Different focuses: places your investors read and places your target market reads
- Big and small: niche blogs with a diehard but small audience and dream outlets that’d make you say
“we’re gonna need a bigger boat”
Then introduce yourself to them BEFORE you have something to sell. I said sell because when you pitch them, you’re really asking someone to buy your story.
Don't make every single contact with a reporter a pitch. Get a coffee. Tell them you liked something they wrote. (If you really did; don't lie.) Offer to stop by the newsroom to drop off a sample. Stay in touch, so that when it’s time to pitch, you’re not a stranger.
Look at it like an investment. Was the first question you asked an investor to cut the check? Hopefully not. Treat the media similarly. If you followed step one, you have a handful of relationships with key reporters and bloggers. Understand they’re busy too and they’re not just waiting for your launch date with their calendars and front pages held open for you. Find the best time to pitch that works with both of your schedules.
So, what do you pitch? Glad you asked.
Find a story
"We are a startup" is NOT a story. Neither is “We started this in our garage.” That used to be unique, but it’s trite now. Your first HQ can be interesting. Did you start it in your car? In the office of your full-time job? On a boat? Here are a few more questions to help you identify a story:
- How did you make the seed money?
- Who does this help?
- What have our early adopters told us it changes for them?
- What did you leave behind to start this?
Please don’t pitch someone: “We’re the Uber of ____.” Yes it’s an easy way to explain what you do, but it’s lazy, too. Not to mention overplayed and makes your story about someone else, not you.
Remember - your startup isn’t a story by itself. Build a bond with the media, learn what resonates with them, then find an angle no one else is taking and get your startup some ink.