Everyone knows that PR can be a powerful weapon in the war of people giving a shit about your startup. After all, that’s what you’re really competing against. The third party validation, visibility and credibility that PR provides make it one of the most explosive and cost efficient ways to build awareness, generate leads and win customers.
But as with anything worthwhile, leveraging PR isn’t easy. In the US alone, PR pros outnumber journalists 5 to 1. Add all the people who hold the extremely misguided belief that anyone can do what takes real PR professional years to learn, and that’s a lot of freakin’ pitches clogging up journalists’ inboxes. Startup PR is HARD!
If you think of yourself on this clock, most startups never even make it to 1 O’Clock. This means you never make it past anyone caring who you really are.
Because we love startups, and understand that many are bootstrapping their way through the treacherous entrepreneurial jungle, we’re offering the perfect formula to help you hack through the clutter.
There are four things you need to have in your pitch in order to grab a reporter’s attention. But, first, let’s set something straight:
There is a stark difference between a pitch to an investor and a pitch to a journalist. When you are pitching an investor it’s all about YOU. What YOU do, the problem YOU are solving and, most importantly, how YOU can make them money.
When you pitch a journalist, it’s all about their AUDIENCE. A journalist’s job is to sift through the clutter and pick out the “news” that their AUDIENCE needs to hear about. Think they’ll write about you just because you’re the new kid on the block? Think again.
So here’s the formula that will prevent your PR pitches from getting deposited in the virtual trash bins and allow you to start making inroads with journalists and influencers who can help your startup grow.
A peg is what makes your story newsworthy. It gives your reader, in this case a reporter or blogger, more reason to pay attention and makes your story stronger. A peg can have to do with timing; for example, the holiday season would be a good time to pitch a story on your beacon technology for retail locations. It could be all the people standing in line for the new iPhone today, or Apple allowing ad blockers on iOS9. A peg could even be something about your company that ties into broader trends in the market — big product launch, new partner or investor / funding, etc. But whatever it is, the peg needs to be stated up front.
In order to be invited into a reporter’s world and get the chance to tell them just how wonderful your product or company is you need to find a unique way to convince them to open the door. This requires you to dig deep. Chances are the first story you think of isn’t unique or compelling enough to be effective. Remember, reporters see dozens of pitches on products and companies that are very similar to yours everyday. What’s different? Is there an interesting story about how the company or product came to be? Do you have a new solution to an old problem?
Reporters chase data like Mrs. Pacman chases ghosts. As the saying goes, “numbers don’t lie.” But they do paint pictures, substantiate opinions and allow readers to feel closer to a story. When reporters are getting dozens of similar pitches on a daily basis, data helps your stand out. A good reporter values a source that is able to provide them relevant and interesting data. Take the time to do the research and then piece the data together in a way that substantiates the rest of your story.
How many stories have you seen recently where startups are claiming to be the Uber for X? Probably a lot. What these companies are doing is trying to ride the waves of the buzz that Uber continues to create. However, merely stating your claim as a new rev on an old idea is only going to make you forgettable. Instead of talking about how you are like Uber, talk about what separates you from them. What is your secret sauce or key differentiator? What makes your business model approach different than others? Is it your industry knowledge, user interface, monetization strategy that is setting you apart?
A Newsworthy Story!
So here you have it: the perfect formula to start getting your PR pitches read. But don’t forget that PR is not transactional and favorable press doesn’t happen overnight. It often takes multiple engagements with a reporter or blogger before you get a story. Be persistent but never overbearing. PR is all about the relationships; focus on building them and the ink will come.