Startup founders and CEO’s are often the best person to tell their company story. Afterall, who could replicate the passion they have for their idea, vision and product or service. However, when many startup founders take it into their own hands to reach out to press they make some mistakes. Here are a few we’ve seen in the past to learn from.
1) Pressing to Hard on the Press: Startup CEO’s and founders are understandably excited about their company and they often can’t understand why a reporter wouldn’t cover the company. This often leads to early-stage startup CEO’s becoming aggressive with the press – multiple emails and social media messages (that sometimes border on stalking). I respect the hustle, but after a reporter says I’m not interested, only try one additional message to hit on what you think they may be missing. After that, it’s time to move on. If not, you’ll burn the bridge for the future and risk it boiling into something that may bubble up on social media (for everyone to see).
2: Focus on Getting Stories before Messaging: Before you go to a reporter to launch your company or product, you need to know what you’re going to say. A lot of startup founders think their launch is the “news,” but it really isn’t. You need to have your company messaging together so you know the simple message you want to get across and how the launch ties into the larger landscape. Why is this news? What are you doing differently? How will this change the market?
3) Becoming too Chummy with Media in Interviews: Don’t get me wrong, you want to build a rapport with media, but you can’t forget that anything you say could end up on the Web or in print. Yes, you can go off the record occasionally if you’re crystal clear, but that banter you’re having in every other part of the conversation can be taken, cut down and used in a story. Sometimes, it ends up being out of context. Look what happened to Paul Graham: yabb.ly/WkWRne.
4) Not Giving Enough Lead Time for PR: Everyone working at startups knows they are fluid environments that change daily. However, you can’t just turn a switch and expect PR to turn on. Announcements typically need two weeks at the minimum to plan out and execute effectively and if you’re doing a major launch, we’re talking month(s) of prep time.
5) Launching with their first Funding Announcement: Yes, it improves the chances of it getting covered broadly, but you may be using more gun powder than you really need. Save some. In most cases you can do an initial product launch and get some coverage (if it’s a truly unique idea) and then come back in a few months to show the validation of that idea with a funding round. Two rounds of press coverage is better than one.