Getting media coverage for your small business is critical, especially if you are working in the enterprise segment. The problem is that many major publications will not cover your startup unless you are very big, do something totally different from the rest of the market, have a ‘celebrity’ investor, raise a lot of money, get acquired by someone, or have given them a reason to write about you.
And to give journalists a reason to take interest in your company, you need to stick to a specific format. Namely you have to think like a journalist and become a news provider rather than someone who sends press releases and hopes for the best.
For example, let’s say your company creates mobile apps for iPhone and Android. You can pitch your apps to mobile editors, but good luck with that. Instead, you can analyze use of those apps. Let’s say you find out that iPhone app users generate 3 times more revenue than Android users. That’s news! And a lot of iOS journalists and bloggers will cover how iPhone isn’t just about technology, it’s also about the audience. What if your iPhone user revenue is identical to the Android user? That’s news too! And many Android-focused media outlets will be happy to write an article on how Android’s reputation of “hard to monetize” is actually a myth.
If you’re looking to increase your company’s publicity, here are four simple strategies to increase your chances of getting press coverage:
1. Share news and numbers stories.
For example, we offered our product to startups for free in a promotion last year. But our press release was entitled “Bitrix24 Announces $2.4 Million Program to Popularize Social Intranet among Startups.” That was newsworthy, and we got coverage. We also released a report and infographic called “How Small Businesses Use Social Intranet,” and again this resulted in coverage from multiple publications.
2. Befriend your calendar.
This will help you with pitch ideas a great deal. For example, Independence Day is perfect for articles about Americans getting more and more dependent on certain technologies. Big religious-based holidays are good days for publicity if a lot of your clients are churches. Offering discounts to people named “Albert” on March 14 (Einstein’s birthday) may warrant coverage from unexpected sources. And don’t forget Christmas – last year the most reprinted Bitrix24 news story was on how many people have accessed their corporate portal on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
3. Be mindful of non-traditional journalists.
Which media outlets you pitch your startup to is another important issue. You may think that your only target audience is journalists who cover your topic, and if you can’t get to them, you are screwed.
However many publications, like Forbes.com or BusinessWeek.com have blogs that are run by entrepreneurs, analysts, consultants, authors, business school professors, and other non-journalists who are very receptive to new ideas if they happen to touch on an area of interest to them. At least 30% of the publications we get coverage in is the result of reaching out to non-traditional journalists.
4. Think globally, act locally.
Finally, remember to be flexible and adapt your story to different markets — think globally and act locally. We usually publish press-releases in English, Russian and German, tweaking each in a way that’s more relevant for the specific audience. It works on the local level too. For instance, a journalist from Austin, TX was completely uninterested, until we mentioned that The Long Center (a downtown Austin performance arts venue) is a client.
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Photo: Roberto Cavalli
Dmitry Valyanov is CEO of Bitrix24, a cloud-based social intranet SaaS for business, which reached 50,000 signups in less than a year and is currently the fastest growing social intranet for small business.