Startup life is hard, and it’s often difficult to prioritize when there’s so much to do.
Developing a good relationship with the press is undoubtedly a key part of getting a new business off the ground, but it’s often all too easy to send out a generic press release and hope for the best. Yet that’s rarely a strategy that works, as journalists (and their inboxes) are constantly inundated with messages, so you’ll likely be ignored if there’s no thought put into your outreach.
While there’s no surefire way to grab the attention of a reporter, there are tactics that can at least help. Here, BG’s VP and Director of Public Relations Laura Emanuel shares how entrepreneurs can kickstart their media relations strategy and establish a healthy rapport with reporters.
- It’s a two-way street. Before you can build a relationship with media, it is important to remember and embrace the fact that it is a relationship, not a transaction. This means you need to provide insight and expert commentary on topics that relate to your business and help them produce well-read content that over time enhances your brand.
- Keep the circle small. As an entrepreneur that may be wearing 10 hats right now, it’s unrealistic to think you can also engage with dozens and dozens of media in a meaningful way. But, engaging with 3-5 VIP media who are best connected to your business and customer? That you can do. Identify the handful of reporters or bloggers that matter most – this may be a combination of local press in your neighborhood, national business media or the industry trade press – whomever they are, you need to know their name and put them on your shortlist.
- Tweet. Repeat. Knowing their name is just the start. Reading their content every day and following them on social channels is the key to understanding how frequently they publish, what types of stories they publish and who they often interview. It also helps you understand their point of view on trending topics and that means you are equipped to offer a new point of view or even a contrarian viewpoint. Twitter is a great forum for media engagement. Here you can retweet something that was posted by your VIP media and add your own point of view. Just be sure your Twitter profile is business-centric.
- Subscribe. There are free daily subscription tools like Help a Reporter Out that allow you to see what stories reporters are currently working on and the sources they need. If there are stories related to your industry or area of focus, you can respond with a short, thoughtful summary that addresses their needs. The key here is to respond quickly and to answer their needs. This is not a call for commercials from you. And, if you don’t have the expertise, don’t reply – there’s nothing worse than wasting a reporter’s time. And, don’t be afraid to respond to an inquiry that is on a very tight deadline – being available on short-notice goes a long way in establishing yourself as a reliable source.