Sales and marketing

Why the media is ignoring your startup: Six common mistakes made by entrepreneurs

Jess Williams /

If you’re like most startups, budgets are tight, marketing is a huge cost and there’s never enough money to reach everyone you want to target.

But in case you are not yet in the know, free advertising that attracts high numbers of potential customers to your brand does exist and all it takes is knowing what not to do and knowing how to attract media attention.

We call this PR or media, not the paid ads but the stories you see journalists writing.

Getting your story out there via journalists is not only smart business but it’s free and journalists actually do want your story.

Journalists at the end of the day have a job to do like everyone else and they want stories that are relevant to them and their audience.

All you need to do is know how to tell your story in an interesting way, deliver value to the audience and more importantly know what not to do so that you don’t burn your bridges when pitching your story to a journalist.

I see a lot of startups trying to get media attention and often not getting any response at all to their efforts.

I have entrepreneur friends who often are left scratching their heads as to why they can’t get media coverage.

They know they have a good product and they are ready to disrupt their industry and know if they could only get media attention that the fact there is next to no marketing budget will no longer be as big of an issue.

Why wouldn’t you want free media and why wouldn’t you want to know how to do it yourself instead of relying on expensive PR firms?

Trust me, once you know the formula and the what not to dos getting media for your business is easy.

Free media positions your brand as an industry leader and as a thought leader, builds credibility and trust, builds brand awareness, drives traffic across your social media and website, generates leads and much more.

Have you been banging your head against a wall almost literally to get media attention without much result? You’re not alone.

There can be a variety of reasons why journalists aren’t responding to your emails and why they are quick to hang up the phone not long into your pitch.

But there are only a small handful of key reasons most startups are being ignored that I commonly see.

I sat down with Jessica from the Media Institute and got some of her top six tips for why startups are failing to get media attention

1. Incorrect contacts

There is such a thing as the wrong journalists and editors. If you’re pitching to the wrong ones your story will remain unshared.

If you’re selling products to females interested in health and wellness, pitching to the Financial Review won’t be relevant.

Pick the publications that reflect your market.

Don’t mass email a list of journalists, this will likely only burn bridges and make it hard for you to get coverage in the future.

Rather write content with the journalist, audience and publication in mind.

2. Not the right timing

Timing is everything, learn about journalists start times, when they have their news conferences and know when to have pitches to them.

Be savvy by doing it right before cut off time as your email will be one of the latest in their inbox.

Make sure that the outlet hasn’t recently ran a piece with the same angle as your story and that the journalist is not on leave.

3. Not relevant

Make sure your contact journalist or editor publish topics in your category and don’t send your story to irrelevant outlets as you wont get published.

Their followers whether readers or viewers are only interested in the topics they specialise in generally.

4. No value

Gaining media attention and sharing your story is not the same as paying for an advertisement and going in for the hard sell.

Don’t hard sell when sharing your story just add value that is relevant to the publication’s audience.

For example, share handy tips, advice or lessons you have learnt in business that will benefit others.

5. Not an interesting or stand-out story

Know what’s newsworthy and is likely to get published.

If your story is boring it won’t get published, be authentic and make sure there’s an interesting angle to what you have to share.

6. Not organised or prepared

Remember not only are you trying to earn valuable media attention for your business but your helping a journalist do their job so make it easy for them.

Remember the last time someone made it hard for you to get a simple task done. I bet you questioned the value of continuing work with them.

It’s the same thing with getting your story published.

Make it easy for journalists and be ready for unexpected opportunities.

Have media portraits taken and ready to go, have a media kit prepared ready for any journalist at the drop of a hat.

Be available once you send off your pitch or media release – you could end up on TV the same day if your pitch is a winner.

This piece was first published on LinkedIn.

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