6 ways to make media friends
We all know that PR can boost your startup in ways that you can never imagine. One question we get asked a lot: When should I start thinking about PR? Six months, six week weeks, six days to launch? The answer: If your goal in PR is to build relationships with the media (which it should be!) then it’s never too early to start.
Making media friends throughout your startup journey is a valuable investment you make toward a successful launch. Think of it this way: a retweet here, a comment there, a friendly email before you need an actual reply… these are all month’s worth of interactions and engagement you can achieve passively while still building your product. If you have time to post on Facebook, you have time to follow a journalist. No excuses!
Here are 6 ways how:
1. Stalk.. In a good way, of course!
No, not the creepy kind of stalking. You don’t want to be scaring anybody off before you’ve made any friends. The best advice to find the right journalist to stalk?
“Read a journalist’s work. This is PR 101.” – Abbi Whitaker, Abbi Public Relations
Read their content
The first thing you have to do is to familiarise yourself with their content. What is their beat? What do they write about? What is their writing style? Would they be interested in covering your startup? (Tip: If they are covering your competitors, the answer is YES!)
Share their content
After determining a list of journalists to target, don’t bombard them immediately. Start by liking and sharing their content to let them know that you exist.
Understand their interests
Every journalist has their own niche. Sure, a writer might primarily cover HR tech startups but they may also have an interest in mobile health for developing countries. It pays to know this!
2. Interact with them.. But not too much
There are ways to make yourself known without overdoing it. Be mindful of the line between being friendly and being annoying. Tip: If they don’t respond, don’t press on.
“If it’s something that’s generally not my beat, I’m just not going to respond.” – Melanie Eversley, USA Today
Create a Twitter list
A Twitter list is a good way to monitor the people you want to make friends with. Stay updated with their current statuses and content. This is a great way to “be in the know.”
Comment on their posts
Let your media friends know how much you value their work. Share thoughtful comments on social media (LinkedIn is a great one for this) and share it with your personal and professional networks.
3. Send them a message.. but respect their time
Sending them an email or a private message is a good way to kick start your relationship. Just remember that these journalists are busy, keep that in mind with every message that you send. Keep it short and sweet.
Determine if they are actively online
While you are interacting with them, make sure to note when they are usually online. Send them a message during this time.
Don’t beat around the bush
Make sure to get straight to the point in your first message. Don’t assume that you’ll tell them what you want as soon as they reply. Sad but true, some never do so it’s best to be clear right away.
Send a killer intro
In your message, be sure to introduce yourself, your startup, your elevator pitch, and why the reporter should care. Are you launching something cool in the next few months (that you know they’d love), do you want to invite them to beta, introduce them to a resource or meet for a coffee?
4. Give.. Before you receive
The best media relationships are two way. Ask yourself, what can you offer a reporter? What do they get out of it? In the early days, focus on giving. Be helpful. Do them a favour before asking for one.
Share your resources
One way is making sure you have something to offer. Consider connecting the reporter to contacts that you know will be a great resource for their stories.
Give them something that will make their job easier
Are you using an app or a program that makes your life easier? Try sharing it with them, especially when they post something about a problem and you know you can help.
5. Use tech.. but don’t overdo it
Just because you can access anyone, at any time, on any channel, doesn’t mean you should.
Don’t friend them on Facebook
Connecting on Facebook is a bit of a cheap shot unless you have some personal connection to the reporter. It is rarely used for formal introductions, so opt for other social media channels.
Send them a message on Twitter, Google+ or Linkedin
These three channels are more acceptable for making connections and reaching out to journalists. Consider contacting them here.
Set up a professional email address
It’s an obvious one, but first impressions count. Create a formal business email that you can use to build connections and media friends.
Building relationships with the media throughout your startup journey is a valuable investment. By laying the groundwork months ahead of launch, you have successfully garnered the attention of key journalists to make your big day a success!