You want PR. Who doesn't? Being featured on a news or industry website and watching the number of visitors from that source rise in your Analytics is one of the best feelings for an entrepreneur.
However, whether you approached a reporter with a pitch or was approached by one interested to learn about your company and what you do, it is crucial for your startup’s PR efforts to be ready for the call.
Speaking to a reporter that you don’t know personally can at times be as stressful as taking an important test. As an entrepreneur, you deal with many nerve-wracking situations in which there’s a lot on the line. A call with a reporter can turn into a PR success or bust, and you can contribute to the outcome to be a success.
Here are 6 tips for an awesome and successful call:
1) Research about the reporter – think of this call like you would of an important meeting with an investor or partner and study for it. Prior to the scheduled call with the reporter, learn about where they write and what they wrote about recently. Many times, tech reporters contribute to several media outlets so knowing ahead of time which one they contribute to will help you shift the conversation to the direction you want. Also, reporters may receive hundreds of pitches per day so you really want to grab their attention and make your conversation meaningful. As you should with your marketing strategy, learn who your audience is. The more you fine-tune your message to the reporter, the better.
2) Create a fact sheet – the conversion can be navigated to different areas. By creating a short fact sheet that includes important facts about your startup and field, you won’t be caught in the headlights. Skim through the fact sheet prior to the call and have it handy during it. It’s not enough sometimes to tell an interesting story - you will be asked to back the fluff with facts, names of competitors and numbers.
3) Be nice - the reporter may have an accent that’s hard to understand, or the phone connection could be bad. Stay polite and remember that you need this call more than the reporter. Having this conversation shouldn’t ignite a conflict. Yes, you may be asked questions outside your comfort zone, that you feel are irrelevant to the topic, but for the call to be a PR win, answer politely and try to shift the conversation back to the topic. At the end of the day, you want the reporter to be your friend. They choose whether or not to cover your topic so help them choose right. A pleasant conversation can lead to a personal connection that will help your company get coverage, and also start a long-term relationship with that reporter.
4) Help - it's your priority that a (good) story mentioning your startup will be published. A reporter is not there to get you. They're looking for good stories that would interest their audience. The better the information you provide them, the better their story will be. Offer the reporters help throughout the initial conversation and open the door for future conversations.
5) Be clear - If your product is not an app that all it does is send “Yo” to people, try to understand during the conversation if the reporter understood your main points. If not, send a follow-up email with any relevant sources of information they can use (don’t send them a 50-page white paper you published though… give them something they can read quickly. Be truthful, professional and have something meaningful to say. Once a reporter feels you're beating around the bush or not being truthful with your answers, it’s done. Their attitude towards you will immediately change.
6) Focus - During your call, it’s possible that the reporter will come up with other story ideas or that something you mentioned casually will peak their interest to start a new discussion. If you feel you’re starting to lose the direction of the conversation, shift it back to what you want to talk about.