Startups will always have a few innate challenges, one of which is cash flow and capital. This leaves many hats on the table that people working within startups have to begin wearing— and a lot of times public relations and media outreach become something that has to be picked up by someone. That is the reality, and because of it, often times startups have minimally successful PR campaigns.
The objective of this article is to help whomever has donned the PR hat at your company to have a checklist, something that will help make sure each time you are reaching out to the media, you are standing out to improve the chances of success.
If you check these boxes, you’ll be sure to be a cut above the rest. Let’s dig in...
1. Be Concise
Short, sweet, to the point. Pitching the media is always to get attention, so getting straight to the point is the safest way to get their attention and drive their interest. This is relationship building. A long-winded email often results in immediate trash bin tossing.
TIP: Try to keep the word count down. Challenge yourself: is each word necessary? Keep it simple. Think about your pitch emails like you would a 280-character tweet or a 30-second elevator pitch.
2. Be Compelling
I can’t stop reading, please tell me more. Why is this so interesting? For journalists at least, impressive hard facts and empirical data can help go a long way. Visualizations shouldn’t be overlooked either. Studies show that including photos or graphics that the journalist can utilize will increase the likelihood of your pitch being read and used.
TIP: Is the data you’re providing expressed in a graphic? Or, if you’re pitching thought leadership, try adding an image of said thought leader giving a talk and include a few word caption.
3. Be Considerate
Every 8 seconds. That is how often a journalists inbox pings with a new pitch email. OK, so we made that fact up. But the point is, it’s a lot! On-top of piles of pitches and emails, they are still very busy putting out fresh and relevant news of the day. Knowing this— Be considerate! You can do this in a number of ways, many of the C’s on this list apply, but also: Don’t spam them with every story and every pitch you have: target the right reporters for the right stories, be considerate of what their readers would be inclined to know, and always be polite (say thank you).
TIP: Go the extra mile, share a tweet of theirs on your own pages with genuine commentary. Be engaged with their work and we promise, they’ll be more inclined to engage in yours.
4. Be Cognizant
To be cognizant is to be aware and informed. You are asking journalists to take 30 minutes to do an interview with you or your team, so you can take the extra 3 minutes to look at their social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc…) and see what they are interested in and writing about— and always take a look at what they have published recently.
TIP: Having common ground with reporters is the cheat code to building any great relationship. Same alma mater, shared love of the same basketball team, etc.
5. Be Credible
Trust is everything in life and doubly so in media relations. Understand how you can help the journalist you’re pitching readily know of the credibility of the company, your founders, or clients you are pitching. Are there any accolades they should know about? Any awards or industry recognitions? Are there any well-known alliances or customers you can highlight?
TIP: Don’t be afraid to take 1-2 sentences to tell the reporter about past successes that have shaped the person or company you are pitching today.
Who doesn’t love a compliment? Compliment their work or style of which they write. Anything, as long as it is genuine. Just be sure not to over-flatter, that isn’t a good look. Be specific about it, you want to reference a piece they have published before or an interview they’d done. Then you can pivot to how those things make them the best person to write about your company, founder, or client.
TIP: Journalists and media outlets are no different than us and are impressed/intrigued with social media data— we all like more recognition! If you can let them know in a subtle way that you have a good social or email following that would be interested to read their work on a particular subject, that could get their attention. No promises here.
7. Be Curious
Lastly, be curious! Ask an open ended question that shows interest in what matters to them versus it only being about ourselves. An interview is a conversation, a two-way street, even if one side of the street has more traffic than the other. When you engage them and let the questions go both ways— doing this just makes sure you’re being relevant and not wasting their time with your answers. It helps you understand what their readers are looking to hear and can help shape the conversation for the better.
TIP: Remember back to the #1 C— always be concise!
Following this quick checklist of the 7 C’s of good public relations will help you keep that hat on your already well-covered head in the world of startup team organization. We are all people, we all like to be seen, heard, and respected. Being concise, compelling, considerate, cognizant, credible, complimentary, and curious will help you streamline your media outreach every single time.
If your public relations and media management ever feel like an overwhelming undertaking, consider a free consultation with us to help identify a more frictionless path to success. Schedule time on our calendar here.