Whether you’re starting a new company or launching a new product, most young entrepreneurs want to grab the microphone and tell everyone. And that’s totally understandable. It’s only natural that what occupies — in some cases, 90 percent — of your waking life is the first (and usually only) thing you talk about.
This “I’ll talk to anyone who will listen” mentality isn’t a bad thing necessarily. After all, it’s logical to want to spread the word about your new venture any and everywhere. But when it comes to taking your story to the media, doing so can actually be detrimental. Oftentimes, you may find yourself making a whole lot of motion, without making much progress.
It’s like customer acquisition. Do you want to chase 100 “maybe” customers that probably aren’t going to care about your awesomeness and only win a handful? Or would you rather go after 20 potential customers who are more likely to respond to your pitch because your product or idea is more relevant to them?
Seems like a no brainer, right? But you’d be amazed at how many young entrepreneurs go the “cast the widest net” route. Instead, here are three tips on how you can effectively — albeit indirectly — win over the media.
Think small batch. Find 20 reporters, bloggers, producers, outlets and influencers who both have the eyes and ears of the audience you seek (a.k.a. your target customer) and who will most likely want to open your email. Then, do some harmless stalking: Follow them on Twitter, set up some Google alerts for their names, read their content and socialize it. Finally, and this is the clincher: Look for uncommon connections. I once ultimately landed coverage in The Washington Post for a personal finance-management site thanks to a common experience involving black widow spiders and camping on the Mississippi River. Seriously. Basically, you’ll want to find legitimate opportunities to interact with them in a non-pitchy way.
Why this works? You’re showing that you’re a part of the community. And when the time comes for an actual pitch, you’ll have built up some cred that will at least get your email opened.
Start early. Know how many cold-call style “official launch” pitches a reporter or blogger gets per day? Too many. It’s overwhelming. To combat that, start making your soft introductions early. Even when you’re thoroughly not ready for public unveiling, ping your small batchers and tell them what you’re up to and where you’re headed. And most importantly, seek their input.
The idea here is simple: The influencers you’re trying to connect with know your space. And more often than not, they appreciate an entrepreneur who seeks their input before clamoring for coverage. It’s sort of like dating. Would you ask someone to come home and meet your parents just days removed from your first date? Or would you take some time to get to know them, share things, and build an actual relationship? Point is, start early, be subtle and seek input.
Offer to Participate – Ask your small batchers if their outlet/blog is open to guest articles/posts. If they are, propose an idea. It’s important to note though that your idea is going to have to be nonpromotional and original. You’re not going to get to write some glowing review of your company or product. And you can’t just cut and paste an old blog post of yours. Instead, pitch an idea or trend that’s relevant to your space, the reporter’s beat or the outlet’s focus areas — and offer up a fresh perspective.
The value here? Not only does penning a guest article increase your credibility, but it also strengthens your relationship with the reporter, blogger, media outlet, etc. And down the road, that’ll be valuable.