Startup PR can be a rough sea to navigate in the beginning. Once you get that press interview, you’re on your way. Yet, many startups flounder a little when it comes to press interviews. Let’s face it -- journalist interviews present a new challenge to any startup.
You’re probably a pro at presenting to a customer, partner, or investor. Yet, talking to the press is a different animal altogether. The media's interests and goals are different from others you may encounter. It’s important to know what these goals are, align your message with them, and incorporate them as part of your PR strategy. .
The following will help you navigate the choppy seas of PR for small business, and help get you in the door toward favorable press coverage. Consider it wearing your life jacket.
(Click here to learn about several sure-fire ways to promote your next B2B event.)
Startup PR Strategies to Help Your Next Press interview
1. Look at it from the Journalist’s Point of View
Remember that this is a symbiotic relationship. Both you and the journalist have an agenda, and you need to appreciate the goals of the journalist. Journalists are not there to promote your company. They have a story, and you are there to contribute value to that story with your expertise and quotes.
Stay on-topic, and concisely answer questions. Avoid straying off-topic with self-promotional plugs -- they’re not an investor. You’re there to provide an accurate point of view for a reporter's story.
(Click here to learn what elements create a must-read press release.)
2. Respect Their Time
All journalists feel the pressure of the all-important deadline. The more you respect this, and keep your story short and succinct, the more your story will be heard, and the better it will be represented.
If a reporter agrees to a phone interview, he probably has a limited time table (perhaps 15 to 30 minutes) to talk before he has to turn around and race to finish his article for submission. This is not the time for a long-winded, A to Z of your small business story.
(Click here to learn about how being a good person can get your startup press coverage.)
3. Think “Headline” -- Not Story
A PR strategy for small businesses should always include a few main talking points. To that end, think in terms of the ideal headline you’d like to see. Then, mold your answers and comments to conform to that headline. This will help you to be brief and stick to the main, take-away points.
Imagine you have only 30 seconds to get each point across. Practice these 30-second snippets in order to condense your thoughts to the most essential points. Also, don’t forget to make your thoughts headline-worthy. Choose a point of view that will be as influential and significant as possible within your field.
4. Avoid Jargon
Journalists are not experts in your field, so don’t drown them in industry jargon. Good B2B PR is all about making your business accessible to your target audience, but jargon can be like a roadblock that keeps the journalist at a distance.
5. Breathe and Chill
In other words, calm down. We get it. When you’re not used to talking with the press, their questions can at times seem intimidating. The more nervous you are, the more you’re apt to fumble over your words. Good preparation will help you to elaborate on your main points, and provide a convincing argument.
Expect journalists to be a little skeptical. After all, it’s their job to question all angles of a story and get to the heart of the matter. Remember, they’re at the helm, directing the interview, so be prepared for them to take the conversation to another topic or another angle. In short, expect the unexpected.
If it’s not an area that you’re prepared to talk about, don’t get on the defensive. Simply steer the conversation politely back to familiar waters, or say that you’ll have to look at the data and get back to them. Never say “No comment.”
(Click here to learn about low-cost --and even free -- B2B PR strategies that you can implement right now.)
6. Use Analogies to Get Your Point Across
Analogies are a great way to clarify your point. It shows your depth of understanding on the topic, and your ability to convey that understanding. The more the journalist is able to understand about your small business or industry, the more cohesive and on point the article will be.
Your analogy doesn’t have to be complicated. A few years back, in order to create more interest in its social platform, LinkedIn used this perfect analogy: LinkedIn is the Facebook for business professionals. It’s simple, but makes the concept more accessible across a wider audience.
7. Start Small and Work Your Way Up
PR strategy for startups 101: Don’t expect to have an interview with The New York Times right off the bat. Bigger news outlets have bigger fish to fry. At this stage, you’re not a big fish -- at least not yet. Even if you have a fresh and innovative idea, it may not be enough in the beginning to garner attention from the media big-wigs. Of course there are always exceptions and we have been able to launch the occasional startup in the New York Times. Sometimes, it's more fruitful to work your way up the media food chain.
If you’re just starting out in the startup PR game, aim for smaller news outlets and bloggers to get your story out there. With time, your network of journalists, bloggers, and editors will grow. Whatever you do in the future, you’ll have a solid network of well-developed press relationships to fall back on. Based on seeding your story in trade outlets for example, you may catch the eye of a top tier reporter. Any good reporter is reading trade publications to scope out story ideas. Ensure your story catches his eye.
Another benefit to working with the smaller media outlets first is that you get to work out all the kinks of your message, and hone your media interview skills. When you do finally land that amazing interview with The Times, you’ll be more prepared to deal with that level of pressure, and answer all the hard-hitting questions like a pro.
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Make the most out of your B2B PR opportunities with the media. Good PR for small business positions you to reach your goals and get your message heard across multiple audiences.