One of the many ways in which you can expand and grow your business is through what is known as earned media. This includes having stories written about your company and having various other mentions. The great thing about earned media is that it often finds your target audience a lot easier than other marketing methods, but as well as this it can also find people you never thought to look for. The only expense you should see here is hiring someone to handle the PR side of your startup, so don’t let anyone take you for a fool here by trying to charge you more.
Due to this, a lot of startups seek out writers to cover many events in their business such as the launch of their new app, fundraising efforts and anything or everything which is why as a startup, you need to know how to pitch the story. Yes, the journalist is the writer, but you need to be able to pitch your story with great success to get the best piece possible published for your business. That is why learning how to pitch your story to a journalist and how to ensure that you don’t mess up the story is something that all startup owners should know how to do. In this article, we are going to be looking at several factors that will help you pitch to a journalist including relationship building, how to decide what is ‘newsworthy’ and looking at exclusives and embargoes! If you are interested in this, and we’re sure you are, keep reading to find the information that you need.
If you need help pitching your startup to tech journalists, have a look at Instaaa
The Importance Of Building Relationships
If you haven’t learned this valuable lesson in life already, then you need to learn it now. Relationships are everything, and this is true of business, life in general and everything in between. There is not a single person on this planet who has any kind of obligation to do anything for you and journalists are no different. Customers do not have to purchase your product or service, and partners are not obligated to sign any kind of deal which makes it seem almost foolish to think that business owners feel like they don’t need to build relationships with journalists. Rather than building this relationship with the writer, some business owners seem to instead see them as an afterthought, but this needs to change if you want to maximize your chances of having the story written.
Don’t hand the journalists off to someone in marketing, make sure that you put in the effort to build a solid relationship with them yourself. Treat them as though they are an important part of helping your business expand because they will be. The best way to handle this is to gather a short list of writers who you want to cover your startup and form a personal relationship with them. It is going to take time, so you need to be willing to put in the effort to really make the relationship work. This might mean that for a while you are putting in more than you are getting out, but stick with it and eventually, it will balance out, so you are both giving in the relationship. While there is no guarantee that the story will be written, even with a strong relationship, it does ensure that the pitch will be looked at and you will receive constructive feedback on how to make it better. Every single connection and relationship you can make with journalists will benefit you greatly.
Thinking About What Is Newsworthy
The reality that you need to face is that there are a lot of startups on the market right now, and there always will be. There are many new products being released, people changing jobs and many new partnerships that are being announced. Some of the best journalists in the field can be facing more than 500 emails every single day, each one with a story that someone wants them to write. Nobody is going to be able to cover everything, and you need to learn to focus your pitches to those that are newsworthy.
Exclusives And Embargoes
Embargoes and exclusives can be tricky, but there is nothing worse than the poor execution of either. If this can be done properly the first time, it saves a lot of time in the future for all those who are involved, which leads to a better story being put out there. If you think about it, there are two main ways that a writer can get a story. They can either wait until someone comes up to them and hands them the information on a silver plate, or they can go out and find the story. Now, a lot of the time in the tech world, journalists will end up using a combination of both these tactics, but when executives of a company come to the writer, they use two things to grab their attention, and these are exclusives and embargoes.
With an exclusive, the story will be given to one journalist, which will include all the details. By doing this, the writer then gets to break the story, receiving the credit for it as they then have the story that nobody else has. It is usually the case if an exclusive is being offered it is because it is not as newsworthy as others out there, but they want it covered. These companies know that if they offer it as an exclusive, it might give the writer the push they need to write the story. You don’t want to overestimate how much value an exclusive has though, because a boring story cannot be made into anything more,
The other tactics that you can try is to embargo a story, which means that the startup will decide what date and time the story goes live. Make sure that you are including a time zone if you are going to use an embargo because this can be a huge issue for writers. Make sure that there is a valid basis for using an embargo, though so most people use it to provide information and interviews to the writer to help them write the best story possible. However, there is a proper way to do this, and you need to check with the journalist you want if they accept the embargo or not. Only send the embargoed story if the journalist accepts it; otherwise they will be fully within their rights to write up the story if they did not agree and you sent it anyway. You will find that most journalists won’t do this, but it isn’t worth the risk!
Something to remember about embargoes is that they are not exclusive so you can talk to multiple journalists and get them all to cover the same story. Make sure that you are timing the delivery just right, which is going to be a lot more difficult than it seems. If you are using a multitude of journalists, you need all the stories to be fantastic, so you need to give the writers time to look at all the information, interview where necessary and then write the actual story. But, if you send it too early, then it is going to get lost in all the other stories that they are writing. So in reality, you are probably best off giving them 2-3 days notice if there is nothing particularly complex that they are going to have to do.
It does sometimes happen that embargoes get broken, this is usually a mistake and is most commonly down to a time zone issue. If this happens, you need to contact all the writers who are covering this story and tell them what has happened. They might be able to publish their own story when you call so that they all come out roughly around the same time.
Some companies use exclusives and embargoes together, and this happens more often than you think. It is also not the excellent tactic that some people believe it to be and can go wrong if you aren’t careful. You need to make sure that you are being completely open with the writer by giving them the context and all other information they need.
Newsworthiness Is Relative
It is common knowledge that what is perceived as interesting is down to personal opinion, and this is no different when it comes to writers and editors. They have their own standard on what they are looking for. So, where some writers prefer to cover funding announcements, others would prefer new products. You need to find a collection of writers for your business who all have different interest points if you want the maximum amount of coverage which goes full circle back to what we were saying about relationships, they are so important! If you already have relationships with writers, you know what they like and what they are interested in so you know what kind of things to pitch to them. If you don’t know them that well, then consider going through their writing history and seeing if you can notice a pattern in the kinds of stories they publish.
If you want your story to get published, then you need to pitch it to the right person. Or, at the very least it needs to go to the closest thing to the right person as possible. Don’t try and be clever with your writer by saying you are offering an exclusive story and then only offering a component as exclusive. Something that you need to remember is that there are certain stories that will catch the attention of writers as newsworthy, so you want to try and get as many of these out there as possible. A couple that you need to think about are funding, key executive hires, new products and new partnerships. These are some of the most newsworthy stories that journalists are going to be interested in as long as they have some kind of hook to them. No writer appreciates it when a company pops up in their inbox with no idea what they want and no actual story. The hook will help give the story a sense of direction as well as urgency, which is needed to grab the attention of the writer.
Like we said before, newsworthiness is relative, and your story is going to be going up against everything else that is going on in the world. You’ve got to remember that the journalist you are talking to likely has 200 other stories that they could be pursuing so while it might be the most important news you have had in a while, it could be at the bottom of the pile for the writer. What people are finding right now is that getting early launches covered is quite the challenge due to everything else that is going on. If you can’t get yours covered, don’t cut ties with writers, instead, try to make your next pitch more compelling.
It’s All About Practice
It’s like many other things in life, the more you practice this, the better you are going to be. Find your weak areas and focus on making them better. Ask for feedback so that you can prepare foe next time and iron out all the flaws that are setting you back. It is going to get easier with each pitch you make, and building the relationships we talked about earlier will come in handy here too.
If you need help pitching your startup to tech journalists, have a look at Instaaa