Last month I officially completed my role as the chief editor of the Israeli tech-blog 140.co.il.
Being the editor of a tech-blog was never a dream of mine. However, when given the opportunity to fill in this role several months ago, I decided to accept the challenge in order to gain personal experience in the other side of marketing and PR.
I’ve done PR before, but I was always on the side that has to pitch to editors and writers. In the beginning, I would do the common mistakes of praising ‘our product’ and persuading potential bloggers as to why they should write about it. That style of PR never worked because it didn’t give value to anyone but me and my clients.
In time I got better at this and I improved how I send my message across and how to pitch an idea that will benefit not only me, but the media I worked with. Great stories make great PR releases.
Even though I though I got it pretty much figured out, being an editor gave me a real glimpse of the other side– the side that decides which stories get posted, the one everybody are calling to pitch in their ideas and news. Actually, being on the other side gives you a much more in-depth insight of what a good PR person does and how he or she pitches a winning story.
A lot can be said about how to pitch a good PR story, but I tried to narrow it to 8 basic lessons every start-up needs to know:
8 Start-up PR lessons I’ve learned from being the editor
1. Talk value – This is the most used-up cliché advice you’ll ever hear from someone who help startups build communities for a living; but it’s true. When you write your Press release ask yourself this one question: “How can I make this interesting to the audience of the writer?”, “How can I make them care?”. After you figure out the point of view that will make some else care. Write it down as
2. It’s all about the readers – A good editor cares only about one thing “Will my readers find it interesting?” That’s it. Don’t convince an editor that what you’ve got is big news (if it was big you wouldn’t have to work so hard to persuade him), convince him that his audience will love reading it.
3. Don’t write a press release, write a story – Here’s the truth, editors work hard trying to bring as many great articles and posts to their readers every day. That’s the key here: ‘every day”. They love getting a great PR piece which they don’t have to really dig in and fully re-edit. If you’ll write you’ll PR just like they would write a story, you’ll be saving them time and gain more chances to get exposure to your story
4. Put it in context – Don’t write about how brilliant your product is but write about the context in which it’s brilliant. Are you about to launch an app that does vine-like messages between friends? great, now put some context around it – what other messages services are there, how are you different, what’s your niche etc. This will give your PR a greater appeal as the editor can see the whole story and not just that 1 pixel you’re standing on.
5. Content hierarchy – Start off by saying what’s the big news and why they’re important (do that in the first two lines) and then recap the story. don’t be afraid to highlight the important parts (make it easy for the editor to scan your text). Write the exciting and inspiring part first, than go back to explain the technical details and only at the end write the boring ‘about the company’ part make sure it includes all details that can be a part of the story
6. Give all the facts – the less the editor or writer need to search Google for all the boring facts (years, locations etc.) the better chances you’ll have them not getting frustrated with you.
7. Give a quote that matters – yeah, everybody includes a quote this days. Make it meaningful. don’t make it that standard boring ‘we’re excited to launch boa bla bla’ make it count, make it inspiring and most of all – make it valuable.
8. Get to know the writers / editors – That one should’ve probably be first on the list. I won’t lie to you, having a great relationship with the reporters and editors will help you a lot. Not because they’ll post about every PR you send them. But they will give you insights and hear you out when you try to pitch a piece, they’ll help you find your punch for the article and eventually, if you listen carefully, you’ll know how write the PR piece everybody are looking for.
Are there any startup PR agencies out there?
Please add your own insights to help Start-ups get their news out!