Every week there’s at least one new funding announcement—and sometimes even multiple headlines in a single day. The pace of venture capital investment has skyrocketed over the last few years, reaching a record-breaking $643 billion in 2021, roughly two times the amount in 2020.
The sheer volume of funding news has made it tough for PR pros to help clients rise above the noise and gain coverage for their own announcements. Rounds keep getting bigger and more companies are entering the fray, but the number of reporters and media outlets covering them has flatlined, or even declined, as many publications have been forced to cut staff.
This puts PR teams in a tight spot, facing pressure to get coverage against difficult odds.
As a PR pro, you must encourage CEOs and founders to be bold in order to gain attention for a new round of funding in a crowded space. Here’s how you can help your clients (or CEO) rise above the noise and land coverage:
1. Coach clients to be generous with details.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when seeking to land a major headline is being secretive about the deal or their business. Whether out of fear, legal obligation, competitor concerns or perhaps because they’re eyeing an exit strategy, the instinct for some startups is to be tight-lipped, especially about financials.
The problem? That’s exactly what reporters want to know. They’re going to ask about the market valuation, annual recurring revenue (ARR), any previous funding and the investors. They may want details on your competitors or even specific insights into your business strategy. Without at least some of those details handy, there’s almost zero chance they’ll cover your story.
Coaching your client or team on the benefits of sharing this information is imperative. Find out what the hesitation is (afraid of revealing too much or legally prohibited?)and figure out where you can turn a “no” into a “yes.” Be forthcoming about reporters’ expectations and use previous news stories and tweets to demonstrate the level of detail required. Showing examples of what competitors have released can also help prove this point and provide third-party validation.
2. Establish goals/expectations up front.
Unfortunately, we see many PR agencies get fired after lackluster funding announcements, largely because they failed to set reasonable expectations.
Set clear KPIs around release pickups, as well as national, regional and trade coverage, roundup mentions, etc. Determine which is more important to your team or client: quantity or quality. Are you aiming for as many mentions as possible to build brand awareness, or are there specific outlets you want to prioritize because of their audience or reach?
If your CEO is dreaming of a feature in a specific publication, consider offering an exclusive to a key journalist. Some publications won’t cover your funding round without an exclusive. Often the notoriety of their coverage will generate additional stories in other outlets, as well. For example, we’ve seen this approach work well with Cloudbed’s exclusive funding announcement to TechCrunch.
3. Be flexible with timing.
It’s tempting to set a firm date for your announcement and attempt to control the timeline. I can’t tell you the number of clients who have come to me pushing to get funding out in a week. But in the current environment, with so many stories and new rounds daily, flexibility will work in your favor. You never know which other company may be releasing a round that is double yours on the same day or which reporters will have capacity to take on your story.
This is where an exclusive plays to your advantage. By working around the reporter’s schedule, you give them more time to collaborate with your client to get the information they need, which can pay off in more in-depth coverage.
4. Make it relevant.
Sure, funding is big news for any company, but a standalone story about a new investment isn’t much to go on. How does the investment fit into the bigger picture within your industry or in society? Why is it worth covering?
The same rules for pitching apply. You need to connect the funding and company story to timely trends or social issues to show relevance. You must demonstrate why it matters and why reporters should care, especially for smaller fundraising rounds. Don’t require others to connect the dots; do it yourself and do it in under 150 words. Ask yourself: What would make me want to read this story?
Funding announcements often force PR pros to walk a fine line between working within client limitations and giving reporters a juicy story that warrants their time and attention. Remember: Reporters want to be read and followed for their insights and breaking news, so you should provide them with something that sets your story apart.
Convincing your client or CEO to be bold, forthcoming and flexible not only makes it easier for the reporter to do their job, but also positions your client as media-savvy, which will pay dividends for their next breaking news story.
Pam Anderson is senior media lead with Next PR.