Media Relations 101 for Your Startup. Knowing how to write up an awesome email pitch and how to smooth talk a journalist or reporter means nothing if you do not know how to get in contact with people in media. Getting in contact with reporters isn't your only problem though. Which reporters are you going to target? It's not sensible to pitch a story about your new Software as a Service startup to someone who writes about hardware.This is a follow up to my first post,
Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an e-commerce startup that produces custom dress shirts. Blank Label has been featured and mentioned in publications like the New York Times, Boston Globe, ABCNews, FoxNews, and more. He is also a student studying at Bentley University.
The story is only half the battle - maybe even less than half. Finding people interested in your story is tough. So is convincing people to be interested in your story if they have initial reservations. But if you target reporters with information that is relevant to them, they are more likely to bite.
Here are several simple ways you can find the appropriate people to contact in different media outlets:
Listen On Twitter
Follow some influential writers, reporters and bloggers. Check their tweets every now and then. Sometimes reporters tweet out requests for information to find sources for stories they are working on. Twitter is great for listening because it's real-time. Perhaps you might catch Robert Scoble tweeting out a request to interview new tech startups. You can easily find journalists that cover topics relevant to your business on services like MuckRack . Twitter lists (sometimes journalists have lists of their friends who are reporters covering similar beats) are another great resource for finding other tweeps that might help you in getting media coverage.
Use Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
Created by the well-known Peter Shankman, Help A Reporter Out is a mailing list that goes out three times a day, five times a week with long lists of inquiries from journalists looking for news sources. Can you be the expert to discuss new trends in clean tech? (Thanks to Heather Whaling of prTini for mentioning HARO in a comment on my last post.)
Turn Your Google Alerts On
What keywords are related to your company? Turn on your Google Alerts to get pings when articles are published on weight-loss, and then find the writer's contact information and pitch to them your game-changing gadget that can help them count calories, count steps, curb hunger, and stick to their diets.
Search for Columnists
If you've got the next big thing in 3D printing, you are going to want to scour the web, including big media outlets for the names and information of all of their technology columnists and then filter them by seeing what sub-section of technology they write about. Innovation columnists would be ideal for targeting too. When you target columnists, you have more qualified media leads because they cover stories that are relevant to you. Columnists are a safer bet and will be more open to hearing your story than just any features or general reporter who gets inundated with random stories.
But do note that they write very specialized stories, so make sure you have a strong angle that gives them a story that their audience will just love! Mass-media can be incredibly powerful and you can strike gold with a high influx of traffic by finding just the right columnist, which might be better than features from 100-plus medium to small bloggers.
Local media outlets thrive on anything that is local. Contact your hometown newspapers, your new town's newspapers, even the media outlets within your country of origin. If you are originally from London, have a house in New Jersey, but have your office in New York, you can target media outlets in the London area because you are a native, in New Jersey because you are an entrepreneur from the area, and in New York because your business has its ties there.
Find Out Which Media is Covering Complimentary Companies
Let's say you make custom cufflinks and I make custom dress shirts. If I notice that Women's Wear Daily covered you on a feature about custom cufflinks, I should contact the same editor that wrote the piece for a follow-up piece about customization in other areas of men's fashion (in my case, dress shirts). This is an easier method of finding relevant media leads than tracking your competitors because some media outlets will not cover you for at least six months after they have published anything on your competitors. (This varies and is not applicable to all media outlets.)
What are your strategies for finding media leads? Please share your tips in the comments!
Photo by Benis Arapovic.