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Getting Media for your Start-up

Having a great product or idea is just the start for a successful venture. Here’s how you can get your company in the media spotlight for all the right reasons.

Luck is on your side if you are an entrepreneur or the owner of a start up with an interesting story to tell. Business journalists love to hear directly from the owner of the business, there so DIY PR is an obvious way to go. Even if you used an agency they would probably just do the initial intro and then the journalist would want to speak to the owner or founder of the business anyway! Kath Walters, BRW and AFR journalist, says that the best pitches she gets are “from the CEO of a company”.

The first thing to know if you want coverage in the business media is that you should tailor your pitch to each journalist. Know the media that they write for, and ideally the topics they like to cover, and work out the best angle for that journalist. Then, either call (their preference), or email the story and offer it to the journalist as an exclusive.

Some of the things you might want to consider when working out the right story angle can include:

  • Remember you are pitching a story, not an advertisement. Try to create a story around your business and the angle. What happened to make you think of starting the business? What ‘problem’ does your business ‘solve’ and why?
  • What makes your business different? How is it disruptive in the market place? What are you doing that is innovative?
  • Try to put a personal slant on the story if you can. Explain why the business idea appealed to you. Write in personal terms about your individual experience rather than using broad, generic brushstrokes to describe the business or how it fits within a certain industry.
  • Think about using case studies – although again, remember this is not an advertisement. If you have genuine stories of customers where the business has helped them achieve something or there has been an interesting outcome (and it doesn’t have to be a financial one) then use the case study to pitch the story. Remember the journalist will want to speak to your customer too so make sure they are happy to chat before you mention them.
  • Try to create a sense of urgency or timeliness around your story. It is much more likely to be picked up quickly if the timing is relevant. Use calendar events that tie in with the story or does it somehow ‘fit’ with something that is currently ‘trending’ in the media?
  • Be honest. And remember that even if your business does have the ‘fastest’ or ‘cheapest’ of ‘most effective’ products or the ‘best service’, almost every company claims this, so that does not differentiate you from your competitors. If it truly is the ‘best service’ then explain why, in a way that highlights your differences from the mainstream.
  • Offer research or statistics to back up your claims. Business journalists love data. Try to find some research that has been done in your industry or conduct some research yourself (remember that you will need more than 300 responses for it to be taken seriously) and then use the results to drive the message home.

If you read a story in the media that you think fits with your business, or that the journalist obviously understands your sector, write down their name and then contact them via the media outlet. Most journalists will be very happy to hear from you if you have a good story idea for them. 

Jules Brooke is a PR and marketing expert with Handle Communications, and Founding Partner of Handle Your Own PR,

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