At the Globe and Mail Small Business Summit this week, Sean Stanleigh, Editor of Report on Small Business, and Jon Cook, Small Business Editor at Reuters gave a talk on how to generate media buzz. I thought it was worth sharing their insights, as the same suggestions go for pitching to Techvibes writers.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the discussion:
Identify who the editor is, and send them an email. Both Stanleigh and Cook said that they rarely have time to answer pitches over the phone. If you send an e-mail, they will get around to it eventually, and then send it to one of their writers to follow-up. The same goes for Techvibes, just send your pitch directly to firstname.lastname@example.org, and Rob or Knowlton will get the message.
You don’t always have to put stories over the newswire. Stanley explained that he rarely has time to check newswires anymore because he gets so many direct e-mails from businesses. He says he is more likely to follow influencers on Twitter to find out who is worth writing about. The only time that Cook says that he checks newswires is for stories about funding announcements or acquisitions.
Craft a compelling story. You have a paragraph or two in order to get the writer’s attention. Don’t spend too much time introducing yourself. Make your pitch compelling, and identify what sets you apart as a business and makes you relevant to what’s going on in the industry or other trends happening in the media right now? Also, let them know what problems your business solves and the revenue that is being generated as a result. It’s not so different from pitching to investors.
Make your story relatable. This is especially important if your product is highly technical and non-consumer facing. Focus on the story behind why you started the business and why it’s relevant. Sometimes, sharing how you overcame challenges and mistakes is more interesting than what you are doing well.
Writers want to hear from the founder or someone who has been involved with the company from the beginning. As a small business owner, it’s ok to pitch to the editor directly, rather than going through a PR agency. It’s also ok if you prefer a VP or other senior representative to speak if you, the founder, are not comfortable. But make sure that person understands your business well and can tell your story on your behalf.
Make sure you’re ready to share your story. Stanleigh says that if someone pitches to him but then tells him that they can’t talk right now because they are currently pitching to investors, or making other changes, they may just lose their chance to get coverage. If you pitch to a blogger or journalist, then make yourself available and make sure that your story is ready to be told.
Have any other tips to share on what’s worked for getting news coverage for your small business? Please share your suggestions in the comments section.