Starting A Business: How To Talk To The Media?

Posted: Dec 22 2013, 12:41pm CST | by , in News

Starting A Business: How To Talk To The Media?
Photo Credit: Forbes

PR can be a tremendous way for a startup to get traction. But in the early days, the media opportunities can be few. In other words, you want to make sure you do the right thing.

As a long-time writer, I think I have a pretty good idea what the media looks for.  That is, a writer needs an interesting hook – something that will reel in the readers.  There also needs to be enough substance to write about.

Often, when talking to startups about media strategies, I will say to them: “Can you write a 400-word post about your recent news? Can you make it be interesting?”

If not, it’s a good chance a writer will have a tough time coming up with something as well. He or she may just decide to junk the story.

Now, even if you have a solid hook and substance, you can still easily mess things up. For the most part, when doing the interview, you need to keep your answers short.

A writer will simply not have much time in an interview. So this means focusing on only the relevant facts about your business or announcement. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes I see is when a startup founder goes into his or her life story (sometimes it goes back to grade school!) Yet this only leaves less time for much more useful content.

My advice: keep your answers to under a couple minutes. Actually, think about this as if you were being interviewed on live TV.

I would also have stock answers to common questions. Some include:

  • How did you get the inspiration for your company?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • What’s different about your product?
  • What are the plans for the future?
  • What have you learned in your startup journey?

When coming up with answers, you should follow the proverbial advice of “show don’t tell.” When describing your product, use a real-life example. After all, the writer will probably be on the phone and will not have had much of a chance to check out the product.

Over time, you’ll start hearing common types of questions, which you should add to your list. And pretty soon, you will become one of those rare startup founders who is media savvy.

Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) operates MasterCFO, which provides outsourced CFO services for tax preparation, valuations and financings.

Source: Forbes

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