Public relations is an essential piece of every startup's strategy. It's crucial for startups to build credibility, gain users, and receive
venture capital funding. Reporter relationships are the key to landing
coverage in technology and niche industry publications.
Many startups don't know when, where, or how to kick off a media relations campaign. Many view reporters as unapproachable, untouchable creatures.
Here are four tips for building stronger reporter relationships:
1. Be normal.
Startup founders often worry about saying the wrong thing to a reporter. Fear paralyzes many startup founders from ever contacting reporters. It's important to take a step back and remember that you're talking to a human being. If you like a reporter's article, send him or her an email and mention what you enjoyed about the piece. Send a tweet with the article link and tag the reporter.
Remember not to be artificial. If you didn't read an article, it will be immediately apparent to the reporter. Be genuine and target reporters who are talking about your company's industry.
2. Be helpful.
Reporters need sources and experts to fill out their stories. The best way you can build a relationship with a reporter is by helping her out when she needs sources. If you notice a reporter covers female CEO's, send an email and offer to connect him to your female friend who just started a company.
Offer yourself as a source to a reporter who covers your industry. Be willing to comment on stories that aren't about your company. If you'll share your thoughts on a trending topic, you open yourself up to a wealth of new publicity opportunities. You'll also establish yourself as a top expert in the industry, which benefits your company as a whole.
3. Be concise.
When you're pitching a reporter on your product, cut out needless words. Reporters can share horror stories about receiving 200 or more email pitches a day, many of them irrelevant or long-winded. Lay the story out eloquently for the busy reporter, and aim to make their job easier. If you have a piece of newsworthy content, they will respond. But if your email contains 25 buzzwords and dances around the story, you can kiss your chances of coverage goodbye.
4. Be grateful.
Congrats! You pitched a reporter and it turned into a story. The biggest mistake I've seen from startup founders and CEOs is dropping off the face of the Earth after a big round of news articles. It's important to build an ongoing PR strategy, and stay on a reporter's radar. One of the easiest ways to do this is to send a simple thank you email after a story comes out. Best case scenario: You send something clever, and he or she will tweet a picture or a thank you note to your brand.
(Reminder: Don't send anything creepy or overly personal. It's okay to get to know the reporter, but don’t stalk them!)
Contact reporters and stay on their radar for the long-term instead of emailing only when you have news. If you implement a PR strategy that focuses on reporter relationships, you'll see a payoff in media mentions.
Colleen Kennedy is the founder of Enlighten PR, where she handles strategy and execution of project-based PR campaigns for startups. Prior to launching Enlighten, Colleen led public relations for Lightbank, a Chicago-based venture capital firm, and several of its portfolio companies. Before joining Lightbank, Colleen worked as a media relations specialist at Walker Sands Communications, a tech PR agency.