Let’s face it—we can all benefit from more positive press. A nice feature article in a prominent media outlet can open doors for a small business in dramatic ways. Ditto if the founder or some expert within the startup is frequently quoted in different types of stories. Such visibility can provide awareness to new investors, clients and future employees that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. 

This is of course easier said than done. It is rarely by happenstance that a startup generates such visibility on an ongoing basis. Some startups have the resources to engage a PR firm to make this sort of visibility happen. Others need to take a bootstrap approach and generate this sort of PR visibility on their own. If you decide to go with the latter approach, you need to know the answers to some basic questions to have ongoing success: 
  • How does a story get picked up in the press? 
  • What makes a good story from a journalist’s perspective? 
  • What is the best way you can simply explain your startup’s messages so that it is understandable to the media outlet’s different audiences?  
  • What is the best way to answer questions during a media interview so that is generates positive visibility? 

To provide guidance for you on the answers to these questions, here is some feedback from journalists whom I have interviewed, either for my podcast or media training program curriculum: 

Andy Serwer, Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo Finance, on how to deliver a compelling interview: “Have a focused idea. Have a real voice and have something that is differentiated. People’s attention spans are shorter and shorter and so you have to keep things succinct. There is a rhythm to having a conversation or interview.” 
Andy Serwer on how to best pitch media: “Do your homework.” 
Authors note: this means actually understand the media outlet and the journalist you are targeting. You should understand the types of stories the journalist writes about so that you are truly bringing value to his/her readership. The journalist doesn’t care about giving your start-up good PR per se, but rather is focused on bringing news and information that is useful to the audience. Doing your homework does not mean getting a media list and sending the same blanket press release without any context to hundreds of journalists. Nor does it mean sending an article to a reporter and asking to publish your Op Ed, it is the responsibility of the Opinion Editor. 
Jenny Rooney, Forbes CMO Editor on what makes a good guest contributor: “I just want someone to come with great clarity in regard to their area of focus and what they are passionate about writing about, what they feel comfortable writing about. I want people to be conversational in their writing style and not hide behind an organization but present themselves as who they are.” 
Linda Anderson, Commissioning Editor at the Financial Times, on writing a guest column: “Less really is more in these circumstances. A pithy 800-word, well-argued article has far more impact than a 1,700-word tome. And please resist temptation and avoid ‘management speak’. Simple prose works best and will always deliver a more effective argument.” 
Pedro Ylarri, Argentinian journalist writing for El Economista (economics newspaper), on bringing value during a media interview: “It is convenient to know – at least in a superficial way – the political and economic reality of the journalist’s country of origin. Knowing another person’s ‘context’ will allow you to ‘adapt’ your answers to his/her reality and thus increase their relevance.” 
Learn additional tips and put these insights into action by joining the “Experiential Media Event: Entrepreneurship and Innovation” on March 22 in Durham. Journalists from TechCrunch, the Associated Press, Fast Company Fast.Co Exist, CCTV in China and most of the prominent North Carolina media outlets are among the 15+ panelists. Sponsored by ExitEvent and American Underground, the media event is targeted for start-up founders / communications directors, academics, PR professionals working in a higher education context and policy professionals. 

Experiential Communications is offering ExitEvent readers a 15% discount, valid until March 8, 2016 at 11:59 PM. Use the promo code “ExitEventLimitedTimeDiscount” to purchase a ticket for $251. More information is at http://experientialevents.org/.