I’m Managing Editor of the UP Global blog. I receive countless emails from eager entrepreneurs wanting to get their story in front of our global audience. I wish I could help every startup craft their unique and subtly-branded pitch but the work-load (as for most editors) is just too high.
Unless you’re being interviewed and covered by the BBC – editors don’t have time to develop a story for you. That’s your job.
I don’t ever want to see a press release! Seriously, NO.
1) The key to getting your startup in the press is by telling an original story. That’s it. You don’t need a fictitious plot or made-up characters – just a little creativity and some writing chops. If you don’t have writing chops, find someone who does.
HOT TIP: Hit up your friends who majored in English, Marketing, or Journalism. Ask them to help brainstorm, write, or edit.
2) Once you’ve identified a person who can write effectively – research the blog, magazine or publication you’d like to place your story in. Take note of the articles they publish. Are they running advertorials written for and by companies? Of course not – because as Tech Crunch puts so eloquently – it’s gross and come on, you know it’s gross.
It’s up to you to find the balance between your business interests and a reasonable discussion of topics that are also relevant to everybody else.
HOT TIP: Tie your product update, thought-leadership, or announcement to something happening NOW in the news. This tie-in will give your story an urgency that editors can’t ignore.
If you can answer YES to one of the following questions – you are in business.
- Does this story complement a trend being covered by current media outlets? Why a war and shrinking economy cant stop Syrian innovation.
- Does this story affect people? Women Entrepreneurs: Making the world a better place one startup at a time.
- Is this story a first? Is this story about something new? Oakland’s First Black Male Achievement Event A Success.
- Is this something that hasn’t been written about by up Global before? From Active Duty to Civilian Life: Entrepreneurship is the Path, Startup Weekend is the Vehicle.
- Is the location of the story controversial or newsworthy in any way? An Update From Our Friends In Kiev, Ukranie.
- Does this story involve someone of local prominence? Startup Weekend Announces Board of Directors and Launches Startup Foundation.
- Does this story have a hero? Lessons from Ugly Outfitters: Making Ugly and Everyday Brand.
- Can this story be written in list format and provided as a resource? 10 Tips from Female Founders.
- Does this story include digital media? (Video, Podcast, Audio, Infographic) From Hobby to a Business: The Reality (comic)
3) Now, you’ve found an ‘angle’ that presents something new, relevant and interesting. You don’t have to write the entire story… yet! Create a pitch – a short ‘intro’ to what the story will be about. Don’t bring your personal motivations (i.e. your trendy startup) into it. Email the editor with all the information presented concisely. Seriously, keep it short! No one has time to read a 5-paragraph history on you and your company.
HOT TIP: Don’t write the entire article just yet. The editor might have another angle that would work better for the publication. Be open to changes and feedback.
4) Along with your pitch, include 4-5 headlines the editor can salivate over. According to “The Father of Advertising”, David Ogilvy – on the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. You should begin and end every article with the question: “Would this make me want to read on?”
HOT TIP: Write down 10 headlines. Present the best 4.
Here’s a simple headline-writing formula: Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise (SEE EXAMPLE HERE)
5) Make sure you have available media – videos, images, podcasts, playlists, whatever – ready to go. Interesting, large photos can enhance your story dramatically! Include them in your pitch email.
HOT TIP: Any thought, example, or person in your story you can enhance via images – do it.
If you don’t hear back – follow up 3 days later. After that, take a hint and pitch something different.