Weavee is a young start-up. The product is showing promise, the website needs fleshing out and we’ve got a handful of (really awesome) clients. We don’t take in much revenue, we don’t hire many staff and we don’t even have an office, yet we are covered by Forbes!
When it comes to getting good press, sometimes being unheard of is a good thing, if you’ve got a compelling story. It means you’re unbroken news.
There’s a truckload of articles that rubbish the value of PR for early-stage start-ups, and to be honest, I agree with most of them. However, most assume that start-ups are going to go to a big agency which will suck the retainer dry with irrelevant meetings and not-yet-necessary media strategy.
There is another type of PR, and it doesn’t even require a PR:
- Send just one email to a handful of relevant journalists that cover your area
- Send another email only when you have actual news
Let’s look into the first email a bit more. The intro email should start with a one or two sentences that explain the most objectively interesting thing your start-up has done. Ask yourself: “is this interesting to someone outside of my industry?” If the answer’s yes, do a quick Google search to make sure that other start-ups aren’t already known for doing this (as if you wouldn’t already know).
Here’s what I said:
Weavee’s people analytics platform reduces unconscious bias by recommending candidates on the basis of what they are capable of, not what employers assume they are capable of. Weavee is working with Remploy, a UK provider of disability employment, to achieve this.
Then add another sentence more generally explaining what your start-up does….
Weavee also reduces the chance of a mis-hire by combining psychometric and performance-driven data to analyse how suitable candidates are for the role. This technique compares the individual’s attitudes and skill set with data on their existing employees.
And that’s it!
Now it’s time to find out who’s actually covering what you’re working on. People might have told you follow and ‘court’ influencers, but to be honest that’s probably not a good use of anyone’s time. My formula is ‘give journalists what they want, when you think they want it.’ Make yourself relevant to journalists by providing relevant information.
But how to find relevant people if you don’t know who they are? Try searching Google’s News tab with search terms that are completely specific to that interesting thing you do and sort by recent results. Also, take a look at all the journalists that have covered start-ups like yours in the past six months. Be sure to read through these journalists’ articles properly and be aware of your own tendency towards confirmation bias.
Even if it’s just five journalists covering your space, great. You’ll have a more tailored, targeted approach. Find email addresses for these journalists, phone numbers won’t be necessary.
If your pitch is well-tailored enough, the journalist will know. If you’re pitching hard news, as opposed to a soft feature, I’d follow TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher’s pitch guidelines here.
Journalists will pay attention to pitches from small start-ups, but they won’t pay attention to pitches that are:
- Too long and repetitive
- Offering something that everybody already knows/does
- Aren’t relevant enough to what the journalist is working on right now (this is sometimes hard to gauge)
- Pushy or presumptuous
In fact, even if your pitch hits all the right notes, journalists. still might not answer your pitch. Don’t worry about that. Just request that the journalist saves the email so they remember it when they come back for comment.
Oh, and never ask a journalist for feedback. Mount Doom will sooner give Frodo the ring back.