You’ve come up with the idea, assembled your team, and established funding…so the hard part is over now, right?
Not really. You have the killer service or product…now you need to let people know about it. Sure, you can promote it on social media, but how’s organic social distribution working for you these days. Getting traditional press and market influencers to highlight or cover your startup is key to getting attention, especially in an ever-changing media landscape-flooded with stories on tech’s Big 5.
Securing an interview with a journalist, analyst or market influencer is one of the ultimate goals of a PR campaign. It gives you the chance to highlight important aspects of your company and expand upon ideas that you just can’t in an email or press release. It gives you the opportunity to bring your startup to life. All you have to do is nail it (no pressure), and keep these tips in mind:
Know your audience. Startups have many audiences to communicate with: investors, employees, the media, and customers and prospects. If you’re in the early stages of your company, you’re going to want to speak to all of them. Tell your story in a way that captures the attention of the people who you want to hear it. Don’t just say who your product or service is for, but say what problem you are planning to solve and how you plan to solve it. You will appeal to your target by telling them what you’re planning to do to improve their lives and you will appeal to investors by showing you have a demographic in mind, as well as a plan in place.
Nail your narrative. Now that you know your audience, you need to nail your narrative. Be prepared to talk about who you are as a company, your goals, challenges you may face, and how you plan to achieve success, as well as who you’re targeting (your audience!) and what need you are trying to fulfill for them. Consider mission-based messaging to help your startup stand out. It shows that you care about something and people like that. Don’t underestimate sticking to your core beliefs and values; it can sometimes be a competitive advantage.
The second part of this is that once you establish your narrative, you need to stick to it. Don’t make yourself out to be anything different than what you are, and don’t suddenly change your narrative to save face. Nothing looks worse than a company who goes back on their mission and then desperately tries to recover. Whatever your story may be, make it concise and memorable. The news cycle today is fast and unforgiving; if your story isn’t memorable, it will be forgotten quickly.
Be honest and transparent. It may be tempting to try to make it sound like you have more investors than you do or that you’re reaching goals faster than you are, but don’t give in. The journey of an entrepreneur/startup can be fast-paced, exhilarating, and inspirational, but it can also face bumps and roadblocks along the way. If you still have plenty of room to grow, don’t tell the public that you are on a higher ladder rung than you are. If you end up taking much longer to reach this goal or don’t end up reaching it at all, you’ll then have to face the public again and do some explaining. It’s better to be upfront and honest about your successes and failures rather than doing damage control later because you thought something sounded good in an interview.
Bucket things into 3’s. In the human brain, 3 is a magic number. It’s easier for people to absorb and remember information when it’s bucketed into 3. You want a journalist to be able to remember your points when they go to write the story, and hopefully present it to your audience in a way that will resonate with them. Whenever you present important information, whether or not you’re in an interview, you should always follow this rule.
Oversharing. Interviews can bring nerves to the surface. Awkward pauses can seem like your responsibility to fill, but they aren’t. Enter the situation prepared with what you are going to say, then say it. You do not have control over how the story will be framed, but you do have control over exactly what you say. This applies both during and after the interview; don’t email the journalist after the fact to tell them everything you forgot. Too much follow up might kill the story.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.. You may think that because you have created your company, that you’ll just have to show up and simply talk about it. You’re right, you will, but that will be the easy part. Once the introductions are over, reporters will want to get an insider look into your future plans or your top investors. Brainstorm possible questions and ways to answer them- or gently not answer them.
Remember that you’re not going into an interview simply to answer questions, but to deliver a message about your company or product. Keep your message and brand clear and consistent during the interview, and make sure to loop your team into what you’re planning.
Don’t forget: the press is not your friend, your team or your investors. You really do need to prepare for these things to gain optimal results. Put in some extra time and effort to get ready for the interview…you’ll be glad you did.