Five Rules Of Media Engagement For Startups

media-engagement-newspapersIn the digital age startups can get the same media coverage as large organizations, but with limited resources they need to go about it in a different way.
Without the big PR budgets and in house press teams of larger companies, startup founders have to do it all themselves. But by tapping into the speed and reach of social media, they can give their bigger corporate rivals a run for their money in the media stakes.
Tap into Twitter
First and foremost, have a good story to tell, a timely piece of news to share, or relevant expertise to offer. Then find the fastest and most direct route to a journalist who will use it. Twitter has to be one of the quickest, easiest and most effective ways for an entrepreneur to find media opportunities. Just type #journorequest into the search box to uncover dozens of requests from journalists looking for help with stories on every business topic imaginable. You’ll be unlucky not to find at least one that relates to your business, so hit Reply, and tell them how you can help.
LinkedIn offers additional routes in. With a bit of research into the publications and business areas you are focusing on, you can track down the various journalists who cover them. Forget the rules about not sending requests to people you don’t know; busy journalists keep are open and approachable on social media.
Get your ducks in a row
If a journalist responds positively to your reach-out or Twitter reply, make sure you can deliver what you have promised them. Press releases are useful as background, but you’ll need to be available, sometimes at very short notice, to jump on a call to answer a few questions. Great images are a godsend to an editor, while a live website is essential, as they will want to check your business out.
Leverage the news
It isn’t just journalists who are always on the lookout for fresh angles on news stories to generate extra media mileage. Entrepreneurs can do it as well. Keep an eye on news within your own industry sector, and make yourself available via the channels outlined above, to provide insight for the relevant local, national and trade publications. Over time, you can become a ‘go to’ expert, and have journalists chasing you. And tune in to any opportunities to comment on broader issues, for example, how a cut in interest rates, or changes to employment legislation could affect small businesses.
But be ready to move fast – news travels like wildfire across social networks –  and work on building a list of good media contacts; journalists and bloggers who write in the media space where you want your business to be seen.
Plan for press coverage
It’s also worth looking several weeks and months ahead and earmarking annual celebrations, Valentine’s day and Halloween, not to mention the countless National Days of and World Weeks of, such as Volunteers’ Week or Men’s Health Week. You may be planning something interesting or unusual and definitely newsworthy, that that ties in with the event theme.
For example, Bring Your Pet To Work Day is celebrated by working pet owners everywhere, but maybe it happens every day in your business. Readers will want to know how and why. These events are also highlighted on journalists’ calendars well in advance, and they will welcome a quirky business case study, or industry expert to give their story an edge. These are valuable, easy to find opportunities that will make your startup stand out, and get your story and your brand shared.
Not this time, but keep the stories coming
Newsworthiness is subjective, and what you think is a riveting story about your business, may not grab journalists, bloggers and editors in quite the same way. It could be a timing issue, the wrong fit, or simply that another start-up got in there before you with a better story, but don’t be deterred, and don’t be put off asking if you can pitch to them again in the future.
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