How to Get Press Coverage for Your Startup

May 16, 2016

1:40 pm

No matter how awesome and unique your startup is, you will still struggle with getting the initial press coverage is hard. If you have zero connections in the media industry, no brand recognition (yet!) and limited budgets for a PR campaign, you’ll have to get creative yourself with earning the media attention.

Here are some of the tested and tried strategies that tend to bring proven results for startups of all sizes and niches.

Automate Your Press Outreach Campaign

Finding and getting in touch with media people, who are covering your niche specifically, can be extremely time-consuming. Yet, there’s a smart hack for that:

  • Get on Google News to find reporters and bloggers regularly writing about your niche. Additionally you may search your competitor’s brand names to see who covered their launch.
  • Use Google News Downloader to turn the results into a convenient spreadsheet.
  • Upload the results to Mechanical Turk (or hire a VA) to speed up the process of finding reporter’s contact details and organizing them neatly.
  • Polish up your media kit or start working on one. It should include all the data needed for the story (who, what when); founder details and crisp product screenshots. Listing your social media and additional contacts for custom quotes is another good idea.
  • Craft your epic outreach letter and a press release and start sending out pitches.
  • Set up alerts in Google and on social media for your brand name to track the results.

Pitch Your Case Study or Success Story

If you have been in operations for a while already and got some juicy insights to share, use the same approach to pitch your story to the outlets. A data-driven, practical case study is likely to find great response among the publishers.

“The strategy we’ve been using at our agency to secure press coverage can be boiled down to the following key aspects: identify a strong, trending topic in the niche; create a dedicated case study or detailed how-to story based on the data provided by our customers e.g. how they managed to acquire the first 1.000 users or generate 1000 app downloads during the launch day; identify the outlets that have previously published similar stories, find the contacts and pitch the story. So far, the success rate has been nearly 78 percent,” – says W. Scott Cain, Director of Marketing at Integrated IT Solutions. “Additionally, we use Reddit, Inbound and Growth Hackers to validate the story idea and test-drive its potential virality.”

Stay Active at the Local Level

While getting coverage in national outlets should be your ultimate goal, don’t ignore the smaller, regional publishers as well. They are often easier to break into, plus can serve as an excellent launch platform for further coverage.

For example, sign up as a speaker for a small local event or sponsor a charity event. Additionally, you can create a list of local journalists and send out to them a quick letter of introduction, saying what your company does and which type of data/quotes you’d be happy to provide.

“Newsjack” an Existing Story

“Newsjacking” – a term first coined by David Meerman Scott – stands for getting attention to your brand by dwelling on trending news stories and pop culture trends. For example, you can offer your commentary or opinion on a major news event or jump onto the bandwagon by supporting or standing against a major event now trending in news. This strategy can land you quotes in follow-up pieces.

Yet, mind the fact that taking the “wrong” side in newsjacking or playing this card clumsily may alienate some users from your brand. For instance, PETA didn’t do a great job by piggy backing on one man’s fight for black rights:


Stay Active on Social Media

One of the easiest ways to get in touch with press people is it to connect with them on social media. Create a dedicated list on Twitter for the targeted personas and keep a close eye on what they are publishing – often those might be snippets about the stories they are working on or requests for sources/experts to feature in the upcoming piece.

Additionally, it’s always worth signing up for HARO and other platforms connecting sources with journalists and pitch your commentary for relevant queries.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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