Written by Ben Cossor • Published 29th March 2018 • 5 minute read
Britain is breaking records when it comes to entrepreneurial spirit. In 2016, there were nearly 660,000 new companies established, according to the Centre for Entrepreneurs think tank. Equally impressive are the figures from Companies House, which revealed there were 146,852 company incorporations between October and December 2017.
There is so much great talent out there, but with great talent comes even greater competition – good news for the UK economy, not so much for all those entrepreneurs vying for media coverage.
It’s the age-old question: how do I get a journalist to write about me? Here are 5 of our top tips to set you on your way.
- Is it news-worthy?
It’s important to consider the question, ‘If I didn’t work for my company, would I bother reading this story myself?’
For the press to write about you or your company, the story needs to be of interest to a whole sector or demographic, or in the case of a national newspaper, most of the country.
To give an example, hiring a new member of staff is not particularly newsworthy (unless they are well-known in the industry), nor is moving offices or buying new equipment – these are things that all businesses do. As a rule, if you’re providing the media with something varied, helpful, opinionated or entertaining, it has the potential to be news-worthy. This also applies to your personal story as a business leader or entrepreneur.
- Hijack the news agenda
A good way of standing out from the competition (and punching above your weight if you’re a start-up) is to offer opinionated and helpful insights into the big news stories of the day.
If you want to be on TV or radio, a useful tip is that the major news channels are guaranteed to cover the news stories within the first few pages of any given national newspaper. If you can identify a story you can add real value to – as an expert – there’s a good chance a producer will want to have a chat with you.
Business communications company and The PHA Group client, Powwownow, have nailed the news hijacking tactic, and it has contributed hugely to their stance as industry leaders. Passionate about delivering tech to empower people to work remotely, Powwownow used the many rail and tube strikes in 2017 to secure comment pieces in The Guardian and City AM to urge employers to seize the opportunity embrace smarter ways of working and avoid the commute altogether.
- Data stories
If you’re lacking a news story to respond to, it’s possible to create your own agenda. One huge advantage of working in tech is your company will likely have access to some sort of data. Behavioural patterns and trends are often of interest to the press because they can confirm or disprove theories, as well as the general reader who loves nothing more than a snappy story about a relatable trend.
One brand who has used this tactic well is dating app Happn, whose data we used to identify the ‘hottest Universities’ across the UK by looking at the postcodes associated with UK university campuses where the most ‘matches’ were made. This idea worked really well, with prominent coverage secured in the London Evening Standard and The Sun.
If you don’t have access to data, there are several high quality market research companies that can deliver on a variety of survey briefs, at a reasonable cost.
- Case studies
Going back to the point about something being news-worthy, case studies are a great way of humanising your brand, while creating tangible, real-life stories that readers can identify with or seek inspiration from.
Media also like them because they provide third-party validation for your company and offer a more balanced article, which is key for any reporter.
If you have satisfied customers (particularly if they have a great story to tell) then ask if you can work with them when talking to the media. Most probably won’t mind, as they will get a nice plug in the finished piece too.
Case studies work well if you have a product to sell, such as the Moochies GPS watch, which enables parents to give their children, controlled freedom via a wristwatch and app. One of the ways in which we communicated the benefits of the product via the media was to work with three mums who tried and tested it. The result was an interesting and educational feature on Daily Mail Online, which read more like an advert!
- Make it as easy as possible for them
When planning an article most journalists don’t already have all the information they are looking for – instead, they have looming deadlines and column inches to fill. You can increase your chances of coverage by helping them get what they need, when they need it.
A good place to start is to approach a journalist that writes about (and therefore has a real interest in) your sector and area of expertise. This is vital – if you continuously approach a journalist with irrelevant stories they won’t read your emails anymore and there’s no chance of a relationship.
Images are also helpful and can aid your cause in getting a larger share of the finished piece. It’s therefore worth having high resolution portrait photos of you (if you’re the founder) and the product, software of service you create, even though it won’t seem like a priority early on.
For online publications a video is a useful asset to have – according to KPCB, video content now represents 74% of all online traffic.
Tech PR Crash Course – How to get your start-up in the press
When: 09:30 am, Monday 11 June
Where: Jigsaw 24, 8 Golden Square, Soho, W1F 9HY
Journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day, but will only use a handful – so how do you make your story stand out from the crowd and get those all-important column inches dedicated to you instead of someone else?
In this seminar, we will explore:
- What PR is (and isn’t)
- What makes a story that journalists want to write about
- How to make the most of the assets you already have
- How to create a PR strategy to generate coverage