At this year’s Betapitch, a global pitch competition hosted by co-working space Betahaus, journalists ‘speed dated’ with startups, seeking to find stories worth telling. In the process, they shared some of their top tips and tricks for getting press coverage for your business.
While the majority of startups participating in the speed dating session were not social enterprises, the journalists’ tips have equal relevance for impact focussed businesses and non-social enterprises alike.
1. Tell a newsworthy story
While a feature article detailing the nuances of your business might be your favourite story to tell, it’s rarely what outlets want to cover. Find a compelling news ‘hook’ to attach your story to. This could be the launch of your enterprise, a significant financial or impact milestone, a major event, the launch of a new product, or the publication of new research relevant to your cause.
2. Be jargon-free
Journalists are busy folks, and appreciate when sources make their lives easier. Summarize your social enterprise in 2-3 plain-language sentences, and do your best not to get caught up in sector-specific jargon. If you can, put this same text on your website or in your press releases so journalists can grab it when they’re writing about your enterprise.
3. Remember your audience
Investors likely care a lot more about your business model and how much money you’re making than a journalist does. When you’re pitching your social enterprise to a journalist, do your best to tell them the story of your business, how you’re concretely solving problems for people (or the environment), and why it matters.
4. Do your homework
When you pitch to media outlets, consider who their audience is, and share the story about your enterprise that’s going to resonate with their readers, listeners, or watchers. If you’re pitching to a local TV station, you might consider telling the story of how your social enterprise is having a real impact on the lives of folks in the community. If you’re sharing your story with a niche publication in the social enterprise sector, speak as though you’re speaking to your peers -- and consider sharing more technical details about how your approach is unique from other similar enterprises.
5. Invest in high-quality photos
Many digital and print outlets don’t have the money to hire photographers. As a result, journalists will often rely on your company’s images for use in their stories. Consider putting together a simple press kit that includes photos, generic information about your enterprise, and if possible, some customer or community testimonials.
6. Make it easy to get in touch
Make it easy for journalists to get in touch with you by creating a crystal-clear "meet the team" page on your firm's website. This should include the names, roles, and emails of all of the members of your team. Journalists do not want to send emails to email@example.com.
7. connect with journalists
Follow relevant journalists on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, making connections where appropriate. Also consider inviting them to attend a pre-launch day or to demo a new product or service before it hits the market. Providing journalists with this ‘inside scoop’ can help them make the case to their editor that your company’s story is a story worth telling.
8. Access media lists
A number of organizations offer services that allow you to access the contact information for journalists interested in covering stories like the ones about your business. Journalisted, WooPitch, Anewstip, and Hey.Press are four such companies that all have listings for journalists that cover social enterprise. When it comes time to pitch your story, tailor your pitch to the interests of the journalist and publication to which you’re pitching.
9. Go through a PR firm
If you have the money to invest in working with a public relations firm, some journalists suggest that it’s money well-spent. Good PR firms know how to pitch stories, know when to pitch stories, and in many cases, have pre-existing relationships with journalists or publications that can be leveraged. Moreover, hiring someone else to do your PR work means that you can spend your time running your business -- something you do best.
Get in touch
Do you know of a social enterprise with a story worth telling? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best to feature it in the coming weeks.
N.B: The journalist / startup ‘speed dating’ session was hosted by BecomeWide’s Olivia Czetwertynski. To the best of this writer's knowledge, it resulted in a heck of a lot of useful information being shared, but no dates…