Don't do this when you pitch your startup to media


6 tips to pitch media the right way

Startups without websites, confusing pitches, bad press photos. As journalist and content consultant, I have seen it all. Here are some of the common mistakes entrepreneurs make when yearning for press coverage.

Nowadays I am helping at Startup Extreme, an awesome conference taking place on 12-14th of June.

- We have over 20 journalists coming from all over world, from US to Japan, and national media. All of them will be staying both for the conference and for the networking summit in Voss with extreme sport activities. It means lots of time to connect with journalists, and get exposure not just in Norway, but also internationally.

Not every startup needs to be in the media. Sometimes, I see that the media are writing about some startups prematurely and it can affect their development. However, most of the time startups can benefit from media exposure in order to attract users, investors and more press.

1: Don't bombard the media - respect their time

The number of journalists  decreases every year because of downsizing in the media business. At the same time the number of communication advisers creating content and pitching to the media is increasing.

If you are in the field of tech, energy or other niche markets, then the number of the journalists you can reach out to is minimal. It can be between 5-20 people throughout the country, and more internationally.

Many journalists are overworked and bombarded with press releases, phone calls and emails. There is no time to have a coffee with a journalist and discuss if your startup could be interesting to write about. There is no time go to conferences and get inspired and find interesting cases to write about. There is no time for a journalist to invite a proper photographer.

Meaning as a journalist you have to write, film, take pictures and publish it all online within hours.

2: Don't just reach out to all media

When reaching out to the press, think first WHY? What is the point of getting exposure in the media for your startup?

Every blog, every newspaper has different profiles and different audiences. Choose who you want to reach out to and why.

3: Don't write endless press releases

Don’t put everything about your startup in one email to the press. Mention a few most important points that are relevant right now - e.g., we just got funding, or we have just got a big customer and etc.

Try to summarize what you are solving in one sentence.

4: Don't use buzzwords

Avoid buzzwords - startups, accelerators, exit, scaleups, MVP and etc. If it is a very technical magazine, you might get away with it.

However, if VG or Dagbladet is writing about you, try to imagine explaining your startup to your grandmother and then write that press release.


5: Get a proper website

I am appalled sometimes over how few startups want to make themselves known online. The most common mistakes I see is lack of a proper website and press information.

When I am browsing for contacts, and I have only 30 minutes to finish an article on a busy day, do you think I will have the information I need when all the website says is contact

Or will I choose to reach out to a startup that a lot of information on their website? For example, there is a picture of the CEO or co-founder with the full name, phone number and email and press photos of themselves in the size over 1 mb.

Good examples here are Xeneta and Unacast. Both provide great pictures, articles and press releases written by them with necessary contact info.

So, hire someone to take great photos of your team and your product. You might even consider do a cool video, that explains your project in a neutral way.

6: Build relations with the media

The last but not least. Journalists get very little feedback on their articles. In my four years as a journalist, I have gotten feedback may be 20 times. Most of the feedback was because I had a spelling error in the article.

As a journalist we write articles because it is important for the world and the society, and not for the feedback or pleasing our egos. However, we are still human. And sometimes it sucks to spend a lot of time on a topic, write a great article, and never hear from the people mentioned in the article, or in general.

If a journalist mentioned your startup in the article - always follow up. If something new and exciting is happening with your startup, send a short hello and update.

If a journalist writes an article on the topic relevant to your startup, follow up with some good advice and suggestions on this field.

In other words, build relations. There are very few journalists in the Nordics, don't have a ‘use and throw away’ attitude.

Good luck! 


Maria Amelie