Robin Wauters, founding editor of Tech.eu was invited over to give a brief yet insightful talk about how press should be handled in a startup. Robin gave away the do's and dont's of when and how to approach tech journalists, and summed them up in 8 points.
The main idea behind getting good press coverage for your startup is to:
- Have a great relationship with journalists. This can be as simple as regularly commenting and giving them feedback on their articles.
- Tell a great story. Give your story some life by having an original "angle" to it.
The full list
Build a relationship before you need to ask for press. Email editors with feedback about their articles, comment on them, etc. One day the editor may need your help to cover an original story. Don't just wait and ask for coverage when you need it, be proactive!
Do your homework: get to know the journalists. What does the journalist write about every day? Read their pieces, follow them on twitter and get a sense of what makes them tick. When you ask for press coverage, make sure your story fits well with their style.
Give a great story: give them something unique. You can read hundreds of press releases every day with the words "leading", "next generation", "world changing"... Boring! Editors ignore those worlds completely. Give them an original story and convince them with your product, not words. Demos are always a great option to showcase your product.
Make sure it's actually "news". Many startups approach editors and say "we raised a double digit venture capital fund". Ok, so what? Wheres the news? How are you going to use this money? Who are your biggest customers? How is your product different from the rest?
Make it easy for the editors. Instead of writing about how your product is so great, show them. Send visuals, videos or even give them access to try it out.
Don't lie. journalists check stuff you say. Don't say you've received a venture capital funding, when you still haven't closed the deal yet.
Don't hire a PR person. It's usually a bad idea. The founder will be the person most passionate about the product or service. They need to talk to press and transmit their enthusiasm. A journalists prefers to talk to a founder who is not good at talking to press, rather than talking to a PR person. The founder can captivate the journalist much better than a PR person who hasn't been directly involved in building the product.
Think of journalists as mentors. They can add a lot more value than just writing a post about your startup. They read a lot of stuff about startups, and if you engage with them, they can add value to your business model and idea. Your goal shouldn't be to get press to get a million new users, instead, get coverage in order to get some great feedback.
Playing your cards right with press can be extremely important. If there is one metric investors love in early stage startups, its the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). They love it when the CAC is zero, and guess, what? Press certainly can deliver a CAC of zero!