For a technology company, placing a standalone profile/feature story about your business in a respected publication is the equivalent of throwing a no hitter in baseball: Everyone would love to do it, but it rarely happens.
Why? For starters, editors and publishers need to consider clicks – what stories get the greatest attention and therefore generate the greatest ad revenue. Single vendor stories rarely draw the same interest as multi-faceted stories that bring in a variety of voices. Secondly, journalists are more interested in stories about the latest trends, challenges and responses. They often perceive standalone profiles as too narrow to satisfy these objectives. If they do pursue one, they typically gravitate toward the biggest players in the industry because when they “speak,” everyone listens.
However, standalones do get published from time to time. We’ve successfully coordinated them here at W2 Communications, but they take preparation, uniqueness and credibility. While these standalone stories may not be a sure thing, this effort is seldom wasted, often manifesting in a variety of other valuable media conversations and activities.
So how do you overcome the odds and throw the “no hitter” of coverage? We’ve found the following best practices significantly increase the chances (with, of course, no guarantees of success):
Establish relationships – and a presence
This doesn’t happen overnight. When you launch a media relations program, focus at first on building relationships with journalists. Make yourself available and establish a reputation for being an insightful, credible and engaging source. Raise your social media profile with compelling commentary on breaking or trending news stories. Attend industry events and talk with reporters to strengthen these relationships.
Come up with a great story, and document it
All technology companies start with a new idea for a better way to do things. You need to develop this theme to communicate what makes your business unique and special. Tell your story in a way that’s easy to grab onto; eliminate buzzwords and jargon. Articulate what makes you different, but tell it in a way that is relatable to an industry-wide audience – beyond talking points that only the deepest technologist can grasp. Refine your story, so it clearly illustrates how your products and services solve customer challenges, support industries and possibly even contribute to the greater good of communities.
Gather your assets
Think of it as show and tell – you have a great story, but you need to be able to make it real. So, illustrate growing momentum by collecting data points such as investor commitment, customer references (even better if they’re willing to speak on-the-record), revenue growth and positive observations made by key industry influencers about your company. By assembling and presenting these data points, you’re giving reporters and editors a “total package” that conveys your value proposition, as opposed to a couple bullet points. Be as detailed as possible because you may only get a single shot.
We work with clients to avoid falling into the classic pitfalls when determining a media strategy. We dig in and ask questions. We don’t make hollow boasts or vague claims. We don’t send pitches about unproven and even suspect momentum. (A classic example of the latter would be stating that revenue grew “by 5,000 percent in our first year!” If you start off with virtually nothing, then a 5,000 percent growth figure isn’t really impressive, is it? Reporters are smart enough to see through this.)
The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to collect meaningful data points as described above, backed up by strong, trustworthy documentation.
Ultimately, the best practices here effectively support any media strategy overall, regardless of whether you get a standalone profile. At W2 Communications, our team of media relations and storytelling experts work closely with clients to help them find and tell the “great story”, while building credibility as go-to resources and insightful thought leaders. If this is something you’d like to discuss, then please contact us.