If you think your inbox is full, consider the plight of today’s tech business reporters. Last year, according to TechCrunch, venture capitalists invested a record $428 million into U.S.-based startups every single day. This equates to thousands of pitches asking overworked journalists to cover a new funding round. Talk about email overload!
Funding in just one sector, retail tech, reached a record $13.5 billion in Q2 2021 which shows how crucial it is for PR professionals to have a unique story to tell when announcing a funding round. These five tips can help you increase the chance your funding announcement gets covered and build a better relationship with reporters:
1. Share the funding amount and valuation.
Reporters today require a deeper set of details before they agree to carry your funding announcement. In 2019, it might’ve been enough to include only the funding amount for the latest round in your pitch to reporters. But in 2021, journalists seek valuation numbers to create a more well-rounded story.
Don’t take my word for it. Just last month, TechCrunch VC reporter Alex Wilhelm tweeted about this:
If your startup’s executives don’t want to release the number, ask them again! Understandably, some are hesitant to reveal numbers if they think those numbers aren’t large enough. But because perceptions of “wow” numbers vary from person to person, your execs’ perception might not be realistic. When founders realize that excluding numbers will severely limit their potential media coverage, it might start a deeper discussion.
2. Tie your announcement to a current narrative or trend.
The more your funding announcement fits into the current news cycle, the better chance it has that a reporter will run with it. That doesn’t mean you have to look only at the last few weeks of news stories to find a hook. With a little creativity, you can tie your announcement to a trend that’s as much as four or five months old and still make it fresh.
For example, let’s say you’re with a retail tech company. Tying your announcement to the explosive growth in pandemic-era e-commerce won’t necessarily lure a journalist who’s covered that trend since last summer. But talking about how your company or solution addresses an emerging or specific e-commerce challenge gives a novel twist to an already established news hook.
3. Inform journalists 14+ days in advance.
Being kind means showing respect to reporters. Build a relationship with them so when your company has a story that’s newsworthy, so they’re already familiar with you and your business. Then, once you have a funding announcement, give reporters at least two weeks’ notice so they don’t have to scramble.
I advise creating two or three unique pitches for different audiences. So, if you’re a consumer packaged goods (CPG) startup, don’t just pitch to CPG trade media. Pitch media outlets that cover general investment news, too. And don’t forget regional media. While trade publications often get top priority, developing a unique offer for local media—like a “how I did it” Q&A with one of your execs—will help you get extra coverage without stepping on the toes of vertical media outlets.
4. Get your investors pumped about your announcement.
Your company isn’t the only one excited about this new round of funding. Your investors can’t wait to share the news either. Bring them into the loop. First, add one or two meaningful quotes from investors to your pitch and/or press release. This will give your investors some recognition and give reporters a more robust story.
Second, ask your VC firm to publish the announcement to their website. Better yet, ask their execs to share the news on their personal LinkedIn accounts or on Medium or Substack. Be sure your story mentions why the VC firm is making this investment in your company, why it’s important for the industry and how it elevates your company within its category.
5. Don’t forget to tell your customers.
When I worked at a B2B SaaS business a few years back, our team contacted customers before announcing acquisitions and funding—and they were so thankful to get the news. Each new round of funding brings questions customers may want answered. Is my vendor going away? Will I work with a new team? Is the product changing? They want to know how your news impacts them now and in the future. Informing your customers about new funding rounds provides an open dialogue that your customers will grow to appreciate.
John Forberger is the founder of Forberger Communications, a freelance collective specializing in getting retail vendors seen by brands, manufacturers and retailers.