This article is not about how to get press; if you want to learn that, read this post. And this article is not about about how to talk to the press for a live interview; if you want to learn about that, read this post. Rather, this article is about debunking two misconceptions about press for startups.
- The idea that “any press is good press.” This simply isn’t true. Not all press is good. As a startup, you need to control (as best you can) what is said about your company and your team.
- Press is an end in and of itself for startups. Press is not an end in and of itself; it is a means to an end. It should be strategic and leveraged for a specific reason.
As a startup, you need to control (as best you can) what is said about your company and your team. Tweet This Quote
Below are the tactics you should use to best engage with the press in order to positively promote and accurately represent your startup.
To better ensure that the press you get is in fact good and accurate, do everything you can to avoid interviews. I’ve learned the hard way that if you have a conversation with a journalist for an article, they often use quotes out of context that don’t paint the picture as you thought you were describing it because they are only looking for sound bites. It doesn’t matter how elegant and accurate you are in your word choice. Of course, if the interview is live, then everything you say will be “on air”—if that is the case, make certain you read this post on things to do before a live media interview.
To better ensure that the press you get is good and accurate, do everything you can to avoid interviews. Tweet This Quote
If the interview isn’t live, then politely tell the journalist that you would prefer they send you interview questions over email, and you will respond in writing. They may not like this, but you should insist. If you have a chance to write out all your responses, then you can assure that your words will be used in the way you see most fit. This will help ensure that the exposure you are about to get is representative of your own voice and that of your company.
Tailor your responses
Of course, you should always tailor your responses to the readers of the publication you are going to be featured in. Know the audience and resonate with them. To do this, ask the journalist or blogger specifically what they are looking for from an interview with you and what they think their readers will be most excited about. (Do this over email and not on a phone call as well.)
Press is not an end in and of itself. If harnessed effectively, major features in the media and across the blogosphere can do wonders for your business. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, you should think about press as part of a business strategy.
As an entrepreneur, you should think about press as part of a business strategy. Tweet This Quote
There used to be a time at Unreasonable when I was excited about any articles that were published about us. There is an ego-boost / feel-good sensation that comes with a feature. But often, it’s nothing more than that. The key is to think about the outcomes you want before you respond to a journalist for an interview, and then tailor your responses to the interview or your press release to ensure that those outcomes register. Be focused and strategic with all the press you receive.
Go for the long haul
As part of using press strategically, do everything you can to space your press hits out. Many startups, Unreasonable included, will get a significant amount of press around a particular event or product launch and then nothing at all. If you can find ways to create a relationship with a journalist or media house and have them cover your story over time, you will be doing both them a favor (access to exclusive quality content is something all journalists are hungry for) and your company a favor, as you receive a form of free marketing via the ongoing stories that your company is featured in.
Journalists deserve to be thanked for their efforts, recognized for their time, and appreciated as people. Tweet This Quote
Unrelated to the two misconceptions highlighted at the start of this post, I want to emphasize one important point: Remember that journalists are people too. They deserve to be thanked for their efforts, recognized for their time, and appreciated as people. If you do this sincerely, over time you will develop a powerful rolodex across the media world that will serve you and your team well into the future as you continue to strategically leverage your press. Ultimately, business isn’t business, business is people.