When you're pitching reporters it's important to know what reporters are looking to write about. When pitched, reporters try to put your article into one of seven newsworthy categories. If they don't think it's newsworthy, they likely won't write about it.
Here's the seven story types:
- Company launch
- Funding announcement
- Founder story
- Product launch/major update
- Trend story
This is one of the more difficult stories to get coverage for. It helps if the founders are particularly notable or the solution is groundbreaking. The proper way to promote a company launch is exactly when the product is available to the general public. You can certainly do a company launch earlier (during a closed beta and have a signup list like Coin recently did). Make sure you don't reach out to press to cover a company launch a few weeks or a few months after the product is publicly available. By then, reporters treat it as old news.
This is the most straightforward type of story and the one that is reporters don't really enjoy covering. I've had reporters tell me that unless your company raises over $10 million then your funding is not news. They said too many startups are raising $3-5 million to make solely a funding announcement newsworthy. To ensure coverage of your funding announcement you might want to lump in a funding announcement with other news, like a prominent hire, a product refresh or a metrics milestone.
The "so what?" behind this is to demonstrate a company has traction and is thereby newsworthy. Max Levchin's announcement that the Glow app had been used to create 1000 pregnancies is a unconventional type of announcement in many ways, but still fits the mold. Usually metrics are around installs, MAU/DAU, or revenue. There are other types of milestones, however. One popular milestone is making a key hire. Clinkle and Snapchat recently announced key hires poached from bigger, more established companies.
This is a softer approach that can work if you have a very unique founder or founding story. Paying $2000 to meet with Richard Branson and then getting him to invest in your company qualifies. So does a miraculous survival from being run over by a car.
Product launch/major update
Announcing a new product or a major update to existing product. This is a probably the most likely way for a startup to get press. Maybe moving beyond your MVP or launching a 2.0 version or bringing a new product under the umbrella.
Did you team with Comcast to bring learning to low income families like the Khan Academy? That's newsworthy. The important aspects of the newsworthiness is the partner and the type of the relationship. Companies have faked a simple integration and made it into a product announcement, but that's a great way to ruin your relationship with the press (read the update). Focus on what the partnership does for users and how it validates your company.
Trend Story The rise of BYOD in the enterprise. The popularity of ephemeral messaging apps. There will always be trends that the press love. Chances are you can tie your startup in with one, just make sure that it's a real trend.
In the end, it's important to focus on what's newsworthy about your company and to answer the "so what?" question.
If you're looking to get press, but don't think you have the time to do all the PR work yourself, sign up for the PressFriendly beta, we make PR simple.