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Startup PR 101: 7 rules to live by for BETTER media coverage

The best way for any startup to gain media coverage is to learn from successful entrepreneurs and experienced editors. Gaining insights from Leo Widrich, Co-Founder of Buffer (a software application designed to manage accounts in social networks), Victoria Ho, Editor of Mashable Asia, and Tim Neesham, Editor of PR Newswire Asia, here are 7 ways to get media coverage for your startup.

7 media tips-cover

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1) Think like a journalist; learn to tell stories by setting up a blog

When you put on the writer’s thinking hat and start writing blog posts, you will begin to think like a journalist, always strategizing each post with compelling content. When you write enough blog posts, you know which headlines work better for your readers and the types of content that provide value to them. Most importantly, with great content, your blog is able to get a good amount of coverage from journalists. Your blog coverage can also be earned when readers themselves share your content on their social media pages. When LinkedIn was added to the Buffer app, Leo did a write-up on the company blog. The result was phenomenal with over 500 shares, more sign-ups and 4 write-ups by notable bloggers.

2) Do your homework; know the journalists from the inside out

know your journalists

During an interview with Victoria, she mentioned that sending a blanket pitch without knowing a publication’s editorial direction is a big no-no. No matter how newsworthy your story is, it is a waste of time and effort when you pitch to the wrong media outlet without studying its reader demographics and the type of news it covers. In the beginning, Leo would pitch his stories that he thought were newsworthy to Mashable and TechCrunch, just like many people would do so. But there were no write-ups. This lesson made him realize the need to get to know the journalists, not via corporate events and conferences, but on a slightly more personal level through social media. This is because they are just like us, always reading and sharing interesting news with friends on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat. So go ahead and find the most suitable writers covering the
industry your startup is in, and hang out with them on Twitter and Facebook.
Be genuinely interested in their stories by sharing with your group of friends or commenting on what they write about. This sounds like a great amount of homework to be done, but hey, your hard work will be paid off when you pitch your story to them. They are more likely to read your email pitch when they see your name in their inbox.

3) Pitch to young rising journalists

The reason is simple. Seasoned and experienced journalists who cover startups receive hundreds of email pitches daily and it is no surprise your wonderful piece of news is missed. Instead, reach out to junior writers who do not get as much email messages as their seniors do, as suggested by Leo. Find out the most suitable writers by going through stories written by them.

4) Go the extra mile when pitching

Leo’s way of pitching to a writer is to send a Tweet to him on an exclusive story. Once he gets a reply, he will send an email pitch right away so the recipient will take a look at it. Besides Twitter, there are other ways to get in touch with your writer, such as a simple phone call. In the beginning of your email pitch, Victoria suggests explaining the importance of your story in one to two sentences what your startup does and the significance of your news to the readers. Following up with your writer is as important as writing a great pitch. This is because some people may have forgotten to reply to your email after reading your pitch on the go. Victoria also suggests to follow up with the writer as it helps you shape the pitch differently or reveal different facets of the story.

5) Know the right time to pitch

Leo has learnt that the best days to get news coverage are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday is not a good day to pitch as writers’ inboxes are full with messages sent over the weekend. Sending an email in the morning is a better choice as your email is more likely to appear at the top of the recipient’s inbox.

6) Master the art of pitching different story angles

There are 4 distinct story angles to use:

Your product is able to fill in the market gap

When American President Barack Obama announced in December 2014 to ease travel restrictions to Cuba, Airbnb saw a 70 percent spike in searches from American users for listings in Cuba. It became one of the first American companies to offer accommodations in Cuba.

Read the release: Hospitality, Havana Style: Airbnb Opens Its Doors in Cuba

Awesome data

Buffer analysed all the Tweets sent by its customers and concluded that companies that send their Tweets via Buffer are more likely to get 200% more clicks and double the number of retweets. This data was very well-received by the media with 5 write-ups from editors and bloggers.

Brand new features to make users feel awesome

In celebration of World Emoji Day on 17 July, US-based startup BDS Mobile launched buzzMSG, a new iPhone app where users can create their own custom emoji on text and email messages and social media posts like Facebook and Twitter. As 92% of the online population use emoji with 72% millennials prefer to communicate with emoji over words, this awesome feature allows users to express themselves with customized emoji, making conversations even more exciting.


Read the release: First App That Creates Custom Within Text Emoji Launched

Hit a big milestone

Milestone pitches are great for branding as readers are able to see how your business has grown from strength to strength. London food courier startup Deliveroo started its on-demand food delivery service in London, bringing high-end restaurant cuisine at the customers’ doorsteps.  Due to popular demand, Deliveroo was granted US$100 million to expand its home-based fine dining experience across the world including Southeast Asia and Middle East. Now, at least in Singapore, Deliveroo has achieved top-of-mind among Singaporean foodies when it comes to food delivery. We can say goodbye to fast-food delivery and hello to upmarket dining experience in our comfy pajamas.

Read the release: On-demand Delivery Service for High-End Restaurant Cuisine, Deliveroo, Comes to Southeast Asia, Australia and Middle East

7) Last but not least, know the power of press releases

In a recent blog post written by Tim, he stresses the importance of quality content and how a great piece of article can get picked up and redistributed by many media outlets. Besides setting up a blog and touching base with journalists on social media, it is also important to distribute quality press releases to well-known targeted media. Hong Kong-based startup Quantifeed recently submitted a funding-related press release to PR Newswire a few days back. The release was picked up and rewritten by their targeted media sites such as Tech in Asia and E27. Quantifeed did a great job in storytelling because they localized their content and included visuals and insightful quotes from the co-founder.

Read the blog post: Startup PR 101: How to Write a Funding-Related Press Release