It’s easy to get caught up in growing your business - making sales and forming connections with other companies. This is true whether you are working at a Fortune 500 company or are based out of The Farm SoHo. Yet, an entrepreneur should never forget about the general public. The public is your sustenance that needs to be constantly reminded of your business.
The success of your business, whether it be a new milestone, an extended feature or greater sales, does not automatically result in recognition. This is where Public Relations (PR) enters the picture.
Unfortunately, today PR is one of the most misunderstood marketing channels, yet it remains the link between your enterprise and your users - the public. PR is a strategy, communication and dissemination. Almost the only way your business news and brilliant ideas become the talk of the town.
This does not mean you, as the entrepreneur, need to be friends with the journalists, nor hire an expensive PR firm.
The aim of this article is to deconstruct the PR process for entrepreneurs in The Farm Soho community, so you can better understand what journalists are looking for and so you know what type of information should be given to them. In this article, we’re going to break down the steps in the PR process.
Step #1: Your Story
The word news is made up of one word - new. So it makes sense that journalists and media outlets are primarily looking to write something new. Therefore your story needs to be new.
The story-line is the first point that grabs your attention. They’re usually the first line in the article and carry the meaningful event or idea of your article. As an example, for a VentureBeat article I wrote here, the first line (which is the story announcement), is here: Online ad network Rocket Fuel announced today that it has raised $6.6 million in funding.
You can already see what’s new about this article and it wastes no time in getting straight to the point. Before you can go ahead with any type of media coverage, you need to have a story to present to the journalist.
If you are wondering which stories are newsworthy, we have a list below. These announcements are effective at generating media coverage:
- Product Launches
- A round of funding
- Your company making an acquisition or being sold
As an example, perhaps The Farm Soho or a startup there announces a new product or an expansion. Each of these would be strong announcements to contact the media about.
Step #2: The Press Release
Since now you know what announcement you’re broadcasting to the public, you can get started on a press release.
A press release is a vehicle a company can use to notify the media of their news. Press releases will be emailed to journalists and publications in the hopes of their distribution. You have to remember that journalists receive dozens of story pitches every day, so your story needs to stand out.
Having a noteworthy press release comes down to the storyline. So, the first sentence the journalist reads should clearly show how your announcement is important. However, you also need to leave the journalist wanting more so they can read further into your story for more information.
A typical press release can be broken into the following:
1. Title: which is the story
2. Two to Three sentences: that highlight notable parts from the press release
3. First Paragraph: Discusses the larger mission of the company
4. Second Paragraph: Discusses the specifics of the product.
5. Third Paragraph: Delves more into the details of the product
6. Fourth Paragraph: Begins discussing larger trends that this story ties into
7. Fifth Paragraph: Discusses the background of the company. For company launch stories, this could include a quote from founder about why the company was started.
Step #3: The Email
It is important to get the email right. If not, a journalist isn’t going to read your story and it won’t have a chance of being published.
For your email not to appear like any other spam message, it needs to be personal, relatable and simple. The journalist most likely knows nothing about your company, so this needs to be explained clearly.
Emails tend to be approximately 200 words long, and they include your announcement, what is interesting about your team, and what is exciting about your company. It’s important to include social proof, something that stands out and is recognizable, whenever possible.
Step #4: The Media
News is new. It is important to come back to this fact because when dealing with the media, you need to remember speed. Publications are competing with each other to break stories first.
If a story has already been published elsewhere, a journalist is more inclined to reject covering it for their publication.
To prevent this from happening, entrepreneurs need to use what we call an embargo. An embargo is an agreement that the media channel can not publish the story before a set date.
For example, you can write the following to a publication:
“Are you interested in this announcement? If so, we will send you the press release and information, although we ask that this will not be published before a certain date and time.” This is an embargo.
Step #5: The Exclusive
An alternate solution to avoid the rejection of the publication of your story is exclusivity. An exclusive means a particular publication has first rights to publish the article. Once it has been published by this article, an entrepreneur can wait a short period of time before contacting other media outlets.
Exclusivity offers several benefits: it increases the chances that a large publication will willingly cover the press release. Once it has been covered by a top publication it will open doors to other media outlets. Despite the fact the publications want to have the best news first, it is common for publications to take stories from one another as some coverage is better than no news.
You do not need to know the journalists personally, yet it is important to keep these strategies in mind so that when you approach the media in the right way, you will receive responses.
Step #6: Advancing Coverage
Once the article has been published, it is important to further its coverage as much as possible. This means sharing the article across all social media platforms and promoting it to friends, investors and partners.
You can then get started on emailing other publications. If you are looking for where to find the email addresses of these publications, we spent many hours creating a free Tech Reporter Contact Database.
Step #7: Repeating The Process
Ultimately your aim is to be featured in as many publications as possible, both leading publications and ones of a smaller scale. As an entrepreneur, you should be looking to publish a new announcement every 10-12 weeks.
Keeping to these techniques and approaching the media every 2-3 months with additional announcements, your company can expect to be in the top 1% of startups receiving press.
We hope this article may be of help to The Farm SoHo community. We are big fans of the space and its members.
Guest post by Conrad Egusa, a former VentureBeat writer, who founded Publicize to offer cost-effective PR solutions to entrepreneurs priced out of a broken PR Industry.