With over a decade of pitching stories to media, one thing that stands out is that there is no one guaranteed way to ensure you get the coverage you want. Understanding that will help you avoid misplaced expectations and also realistically understand how you can leverage PR to help your startup. However, that does not mean I think you shouldn’t try.
I do not think I have to explain why increased visibility can mean the difference between failure and success for startups or small businesses. You can point to the success of a brand like Grab, who were entering a brand new and unregulated industry with a service that no one really understood or thought would work. While PR was not solely responsible for their success, just ask yourself – how did you hear about Grab (or GrabTaxi as it was known) and why did you start using it?
However, it is true that almost any entrepreneur or business owner can use PR to their advantage if they know what they’re doing. We break it into three simple steps that anyone can use.
Let the media know you’re an expert
There is a lot of information out there from ‘so-called’ experts in the field (hopefully, I have some expert knowledge) but who can you really trust. Reporters have this same issue, so you know to prove your knowledge and value at the beginning. Besides writing for great publications like this, we have also built a pretty impressive portfolio of over 100 clients in less than two years.
This can be done by providing a good bio that helps readers and the media understand who you really are and what you have accomplished. Include important details that are similar to a CV, but make sure to elaborate on key facts that showcase your knowledge in the industry such as your professional background and relevant experience, as well as the current role and how it impacts the company.
Context matters a lot
At SYNC we have a minimum of three questions that every pitch must answer before it goes to a journalist:
- Does this news impact a significant number of people? (significant is very subjective, but it is dependent on your industry and type of publication)
- Would I as a potential customer care?
- Is this relevant to the journalist/media I am sending this to?
More often than not, if your pitch meets this criteria then the media will be interested in finding out more.
There are cheap tricks and short cuts that many companies seem to adopt, but it can often backfire. Whenever I read a press release that says ‘First-ever…‘ or ‘Largest xxx in Singapore...’ without proper qualification or references, I cringe. If you genuinely do have the best or developed the most effective solution to a problem then feel free to say it with proof.
When I first started in PR, it still followed the 24-hour news cycle and revolved around the off stone timings for newspapers. However, now we have reporting in real-time and more accurate measurement of how the news impacts their audiences.
So, the timing of your outreach to the media is almost as important as the story itself. If you have a huge 11.11 sale coming up and you’re an eCommerce expert, guess who has a higher chance of getting your brand and story in the media around that time.
Similarly there are instances such as trending news around a specific industry or growing interest from the media in specific issues – see the growing narrative around e-scooters in Singapore or the recent e-hailing regulations in Malaysia. The media are on the look out for relevant stories, so feel free to jump on those issues.
Whatever the story or angle you want to pitch, remember that the best PR pitches are always clear and straightforward. If you keep to these simple rules it should hopefully improve your chances of securing coverage:
- Keep it short and straight to the point
- Introduce yourself and your brand if they have no idea who you are
- Avoid jargon – no one likes jargon
- Include the reason why this pitch is important to the publication’s readers
- Use an informative heading for your email that is not misleading
About the author
Terng Shing is the Founder and CEO of SYNC PR, a PR and content marketing startup that uses technology to reduce time wasting and administrative tasks in delivering results. Based in Singapore, Terng Shing has been focused on helping startups and SMEs build their brand story through media and content.
His experience includes a decade of work in PR and communications agencies, managing top-tier fortune 500 companies to the leading startups in Southeast Asia. Terng Shing has a passion for innovative communications and is convinced that PR is the next great industry to see positive disruption.
This is a sponsored post by SYNC.