May 22, 2014
This post includes extra content from Startup Mixology, my upcoming book on starting up – including how to prepare yourself for the harsh reality and celebrate positive moments along the way. Go here to pre-order the book (due July 8) and subscribe to updates!
When I started blogging about startups, blogging was for geeks and early adopters. In other words, a very long time ago. Since then, writing articles and attending Tech Cocktail events, I’ve probably heard thousands of startups explain to me what they do.
Entrepreneurs know how to prepare an elevator pitch, and be ready to talk to investors. But press are a different animal. How do you get our attention? Once you land an interview or start chatting in person, here are four things to keep in mind.
Be sure to have an angle – a major story or theme that you want to come across. Then, come up with examples, stories, and talking points around that theme. Personal stories usually come across well, so be ready to share how you met your cofounders, why you started, and how you and your product have grown and changed along the way.
Context also helps. If you can explain how you compare to a big competitor or fit into a hot trend, it helps you build credibility. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been pitched about a product that supposedly has no competitors – and I know they have competitors. Many entrepreneurs mistakenly think competition is a bad thing when in fact it is a validator, especially if you can explain why your product is better than the competition’s.
Don’t breeze over the basics, either. You live in your startup world everyday, and the reporters you are talking to do not. In fact, they may not know a thing about it. So make sure you explain the fundamentals about your product, app, or website, when it was founded, any funding you’ve received, where you’re located, and the size of your team. This will all help paint a picture and save the reporter from having to search for this stuff themselves.
A Pet Peeve
Finally, don’t ever ask to review the article before it’s published. Media outlets are not PR agencies, and (on blogs) any huge factual errors can usually be corrected very quickly post-publication. If you’re really worried about being misquoted, ask to do an email interview.
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