Nov 15 / Masa Maxin

Essential Media Relations Strategies for Tech Startups in the Early Stages

The moment is here: Your startup has secured funding, your product is in the market, and you're gaining momentum. It's time to catch the media's eye and broadcast your success to the world.

But grabbing media attention isn't a walk in the park. Every day, reporters are bombarded with stories from countless startups and established tech firms. The truth is, there are simply not enough journalists to cover every piece of tech news, let alone provide the in-depth attention you desire as a founder.

This challenge is even greater for founders of highly technical startups. Even among top tech journalists, few have the technical expertise to grasp the nuances of industries like B2B, cloud computing, or developer technologies.

Drawing from over 15 years in tech journalism, here's my advice for founders of technically inclined early-stage startups:Making Your Startup Noticeable to Reporters Report to the media only with genuinely significant announcements.

Funding news usually grabs attention easily. Other noteworthy updates might include acquisitions, major strategic pivots, or key executive appointments.

However, minor product updates can be a tougher sell, particularly for newer tech firms.The key to differentiation is focusing less on your technology and more on the problem you're addressing.

This approach has similarities with pitching to investors: emphasize why your team is uniquely positioned to tackle a pressing issue. This could mean providing insightful commentary on your industry, critiquing market leaders, or leveraging unique aspects of your background that give you an edge.In essence, it's about effectively narrating your story. It's crucial to be honest with yourself and the media about what truly makes your story compelling.

Building Reporter Relationships Early-stage founders have a unique advantage here. It's rare for reporters to hear directly from the CEO or founder. Typically, communications are handled by external PR firms or internal communications teams.

You can distinguish yourself by directly reaching out to journalists, explaining your business and the news you're announcing. Until your company grows to a stage where a marketing team is necessary, seize this opportunity to build genuine connections.

Additionally, positioning yourself as a knowledgeable resource in your field, whether it's information security, generative AI, or any other niche, without resorting to self-promotion or negative comments about competitors, can lay the foundation for a lasting relationship.

Common Mistakes in Dealing with the Press Offering exclusive news to multiple outlets is a frequent misstep. Startups often mistakenly assume that different publications with distinct audiences justify this approach. However, this strategy can quickly damage relationships with journalists who expected an exclusive story.

A Final Tip:

Remember that "off the record" comments must be agreed upon by both parties in advance. Many seasoned reporters will clarify this, but as a rule of thumb, assume everything you say could be published.
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