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How to get press for
your startup
By Tracey Lindeman
“Hello Tracey,
My name is [____] and I’d like to know if
you’d be interested in covering my startup.”
How to email a journalist
1. Be polite.
Say hi, use the journalist or editor’s first name and use a
simple pleasantry as a...
How to email a journalist
2. Be direct.
Cut to the chase. Say what you want from the writer/editor,
as quickly as possible...
How to email a journalist
3. Be interesting — and succinct.
Write two or three lines about your company, starting with
wha...
This is how I feel about embargoes:
How to email a journalist
For those who don’t know what an embargo is:
“In journalism and PR, a press embargo is a request...
How to email a journalist
Why I hate embargoes:
First of all, the information contained in embargoes is
often not worth em...
How to email a journalist
Second, it makes my job harder to do.
I am a freelancer; as such, I have anywhere from 2–20
proj...
How to email a journalist
Third, we are not your hype machines.
Recently, I’ve noticed startups trying to create hype abou...
How to email a journalist
Things you do not need to embargo: Opening new funding
round, creating a new venture, office rel...
How to email a journalist
Honestly, just avoid embargoes. Just tell journalists what’s
up and if they think it’s worth a s...
How to email a journalist
Instead of embargoes, consider breaking news with an outlet
by giving them an exclusive scoop. C...
How to email a journalist
If a journalist says they’ll pass on your story, there’s a
99% chance it’s not personal. It coul...
How to work with a journalist reporting on you
Next: You’ve emailed a journalist, and they’ve accepted to
write about your...
How to work with a journalist reporting on you
Articles are more interesting and dynamic if the writer is
able to have a f...
How to work with a journalist reporting on you
Location, location, location:
Conference rooms are boring places to have in...
Interview dos and don’ts
Don’t throw “off the record” into a conversation. For OTR to
actually count, both parties need to...
Interview dos and don’ts
Don’t ask the writer to acknowledge certain people/firms in
their article that you wish to give t...
Interview dos and don’ts
Don’t speak in highly technical terms if you’re not speaking
to a reporter from a highly technica...
After-the-interview dos
You don’t have to do anything after an interview, but if
you’d like to, you can write a simple, “T...
After-the-interview don’ts
Don’t send a gift. A simple thanks is enough. It’s unethical
for journalists to accept gifts, a...
What to do if there’s a mistake in the article
If there is a factual error in the published story, contact
the journalist ...
What to do if there’s a mistake in the article
That’s not to say you can’t communicate your displeasure
with the journalis...
What to do if there’s a mistake in the article
If you’re going to complain about a minor detail anyway,
know that the jour...
Returning to the same journalist for new news
By all means, if you liked the way a story was written,
reward its writer wi...
Returning to the same journalist for new news
If the journalist reacted irrationally to something in the
past, they’ll be ...
Returning to the same journalist for new news
In conclusion: Considering a bad relationship with a
journalist is rare, the...
Thanks for reading!
If you have any questions, contact me.
Email: tracey.lindeman@gmail.com
Follow me on Twitter: @traceyl...
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How to get press for your startup

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How to get press for your startup

  1. 1. How to get press for your startup By Tracey Lindeman
  2. 2. “Hello Tracey, My name is [____] and I’d like to know if you’d be interested in covering my startup.”
  3. 3. How to email a journalist 1. Be polite. Say hi, use the journalist or editor’s first name and use a simple pleasantry as an icebreaker: “Hi Tracey, I hope you’ re well. My name is [___] and I work at [___].”
  4. 4. How to email a journalist 2. Be direct. Cut to the chase. Say what you want from the writer/editor, as quickly as possible: “I’d like to know if you’d be interested in covering my startup in [name of publication].”
  5. 5. How to email a journalist 3. Be interesting — and succinct. Write two or three lines about your company, starting with what your main focus/product startup is, followed by any relevant news item before anything else. So if you’re about to close a $5M seed round or get acquired, say so up front. “[Name of startup] makes books for cats. We just raised $5M in a round led by the New York-based Cat Ventures.” HOWEVER...
  6. 6. This is how I feel about embargoes:
  7. 7. How to email a journalist For those who don’t know what an embargo is: “In journalism and PR, a press embargo is a request by a source that the information or news provided by that source not be published until a certain date or until certain conditions have been met.” (Wikipedia)
  8. 8. How to email a journalist Why I hate embargoes: First of all, the information contained in embargoes is often not worth embargoing. This may not be what you’d like to hear, but 95% of the emails I get that contain the word “embargo” are not worth an embargo. Not everything that happens to your startup needs a story — let alone an embargoed one.
  9. 9. How to email a journalist Second, it makes my job harder to do. I am a freelancer; as such, I have anywhere from 2–20 projects happening at the same time. Unfortunately, many journalists are now freelancers — and those who aren’t are often busy covering many stories to help make up for fewer staff members at their publication. An unnecessary (and unexpected) embargo places undue stress on an already chaotic schedule.
  10. 10. How to email a journalist Third, we are not your hype machines. Recently, I’ve noticed startups trying to create hype about themselves by trying to coordinate press coverage around an arbitrary date. If you’re using an embargo explicitly to do this, don’t. Journalists are too busy to play these games, and they really, really resent being manipulated and used as free advertisement/PR.
  11. 11. How to email a journalist Things you do not need to embargo: Opening new funding round, creating a new venture, office relocation, official announcements about stuff that is not happening imminently, staffing changes/new hires/firings unless they are very important beyond your individual startup, crowdfunding anything. Things you can embargo: MONEY. Acquisitions, closing a major funding round, famous investors, government-related stuff, major contracts.
  12. 12. How to email a journalist Honestly, just avoid embargoes. Just tell journalists what’s up and if they think it’s worth a story, they’ll write one. If you must use one, email journalists the day before a major announcement to let them know the news.
  13. 13. How to email a journalist Instead of embargoes, consider breaking news with an outlet by giving them an exclusive scoop. Choose a local media outlet and an external outlet (e.g. the Gazette and Techcrunch) to share your big news. If it’s genuinely big news, its impact will be felt whether 2 or 20 outlets report on it. In this case, quality over quantity still rings true. Pick appropriate reporters who cover this space, and ideally a publication with a sizeable — and diverse — reader base.
  14. 14. How to email a journalist If a journalist says they’ll pass on your story, there’s a 99% chance it’s not personal. It could be that: ● They don’t have the time. ● Their editor said no. ● They don’t think it’s news. ● They’d rather wait to profile your startup. ● They wrote about another similar startup recently. You can’t force a journalist to cover you on your timeline. They have their own schedules to respect, as well.
  15. 15. How to work with a journalist reporting on you Next: You’ve emailed a journalist, and they’ve accepted to write about your business. Good job! But you’re still not at home plate.
  16. 16. How to work with a journalist reporting on you Articles are more interesting and dynamic if the writer is able to have a free-flowing conversation with the people s/he needs to illustrate the story of your startup. This means: You need to make sure all your people are available for interviews before you contact a journalist in the first place. (Also, having a PR person in the room can be awkward, so try to avoid it.)
  17. 17. How to work with a journalist reporting on you Location, location, location: Conference rooms are boring places to have interviews, but they’ll do if it’s the most convenient option available for both parties. Meeting in a café or bar is better, though — it puts you both on neutral ground. And then you also get to have a tasty beverage you can later claim on your taxes.
  18. 18. Interview dos and don’ts Don’t throw “off the record” into a conversation. For OTR to actually count, both parties need to agree something is off the record before it is shared. If you just say it and then continue speaking, the writer is under no legal obligation to respect your wishes. Do speak in as uncensored a manner as possible. Don’t refer to things “you can’t talk about yet.” If it’s truly unspeakable, don’t refer to it at all.
  19. 19. Interview dos and don’ts Don’t ask the writer to acknowledge certain people/firms in their article that you wish to give thanks to for helping you. Send the intended party a thank-you fruit basket — don’ t try to oblige the journalist to congratulate them for you. Do develop a base of people outside your direct team that can speak to press about your startup (investors, clients, consumers), and offer the journalist access to them. If they accept, offer to introduce them by email.
  20. 20. Interview dos and don’ts Don’t speak in highly technical terms if you’re not speaking to a reporter from a highly technical publication. Regular newspaper readers probably don’t understand and don’t care about the detailed specs of a high-tech product, and in the end the reporter is responsible to them. Do develop a manner of speaking about your business in a more general way — why your product is needed, what difference it makes to users, how it’s unique to the market, what the goal of it is and provide an intermediate explanation of how it works.
  21. 21. After-the-interview dos You don’t have to do anything after an interview, but if you’d like to, you can write a simple, “Thanks for speaking with us today! Let me know if you need anything else.” You can also inquire about publication date, but keep in mind the journalist is often not responsible for that part — that’s the editor’s department. If they don’t have an immediate answer, be patient.
  22. 22. After-the-interview don’ts Don’t send a gift. A simple thanks is enough. It’s unethical for journalists to accept gifts, and sending them one anyway puts them in an awkward position. Don’t ask to see a draft. Don’t infer you can’t trust journalists by asking to see the copy “just to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes.” It’s a really good way to get on someone’s blacklist. If they’re uncertain about something, a good journalist will ask follow-up questions while writing their story.
  23. 23. What to do if there’s a mistake in the article If there is a factual error in the published story, contact the journalist right away. They will evaluate the error and contact their editor to change the online story. If it’s a serious error, the newspaper will likely opt to issue a correction statement. However, if you simply don’t like the way the journalist wrote something, refrain from asking that the article be changed. You can’t control what other people think or write about you.
  24. 24. What to do if there’s a mistake in the article That’s not to say you can’t communicate your displeasure with the journalist. But keep in mind this old saying: “Don’t ask questions you don’t want to hear the answers to.” Which is to say you may not be happy with the answer you get when complaining about something you think is unfair.
  25. 25. What to do if there’s a mistake in the article If you’re going to complain about a minor detail anyway, know that the journalist may receive your complaint in one of two ways: 1. “I’m sorry.” 2. “I’m never writing about you again.” There are probably some other shades of grey in there (and sometimes it’s both), but as mentioned, journalists are too busy to play games. By the time your story is published, they’ve already moved on to at least one other article.
  26. 26. Returning to the same journalist for new news By all means, if you liked the way a story was written, reward its writer with additional scoops as your startup develops and invitations to your events. If you don’t like the way the story was written, but the writer is the only person at that publication who covers startups, it may be wise to smooth over relations. If you’re the one who created any tension, fess up and apologize. If you’re not responsible, be brave and write to the journalist anyway.
  27. 27. Returning to the same journalist for new news If the journalist reacted irrationally to something in the past, they’ll be apologetic and willing to cover you again. Know that most journalists are too busy to hold grudges, and they know they have to cover you — regardless of personal feelings — if your business is relevant to their beat. You can try circumventing a particular journalist by writing to the editor directly for coverage. But know that the editor may forward it to the journalist you’re avoiding.
  28. 28. Returning to the same journalist for new news In conclusion: Considering a bad relationship with a journalist is rare, the aforementioned interpersonal troubleshooting will likely only be useful in a minority of cases. It’s only included here because people naturally have wild imaginations and occasionally obsess about things they said/shouldn’t have said, and about who likes them and who doesn’t.
  29. 29. Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, contact me. Email: tracey.lindeman@gmail.com Follow me on Twitter: @traceylindeman (Don’t try to Facebook-message me, though.) “How to get press for your startup” written by Tracey Lindeman, March 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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