Michael Kwan

I write stuff

How do you get your startup noticed by the media? The answer may surprise you.

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The D-Code Silicon Valley group had the pleasure of meeting with Jacques Hebert, from Mother Jones, an independant print+web publication on US politics and news. I took the opportunity to ask him for tips on getting your startup noticed by the media. I already knew the answer for Malaysian media, and wondered if it applied to other media worldwide. Turns out, it did.

So what’s the big secret? Professionally-written press releases? Flashy, expensive launches? Buy them gifts and treats? Get the contacts of every media organisation and email every single one when you have something to say? All of the above?

None of the above.

You need to have a good story to tell, to the right person with whom you have a good relationship with.

Let’s break it down.

1. Story

Make sure you have a good story to tell. What is the value that you or your product provides? What problem does it solve? Who is your audience? Why should anyone care?

Don’t send out an email to update the press about your version change from v3.1 to v3.11 where you added a cool small feature, “just so they know”. That’s spam. Instead, think of what story you can give them, that they can write for their audience. Don’t waste their time.

2. The right person

Different media organisations cater to different audiences. For instance, The Star Newspaper is mass audience. Female Magazine caters to women aged 18 to say, 35 in urban areas. Business Today caters to those in the business community. Malaysian Insider caters to the online community. Don’t send a mass email to every single publication out there – you’ll end up being ignored. Do it a few times and they’ll ignore all your emails even though it may eventually be relevant to their audiences.

In addition, different journalists/writers have different segments of the market that they are especially in tune with. Don’t send an email about your new football app to the News Editor of The Star, for instance, and ask him to “help send it to the right person”. It simply shows you don’t bother enough about the publication to send it correctly – therefore why should they bother about your product?

3. A good relationship

Everybody knows the importance of networking in the startup/business world. You meet as many people as possible and build relationships so that hopefully it can lead to sales, directly or indirectly.

The same principle applies to the media. When you develop a friendly relationship with journalists and writers, and care enough to send them tailored stories, it shows you did your homework, and you care. Follow them on their social feeds, learn their interests and know the topics they care about, and engage them in conversations.

Show them that you care about what they have to say. In turn, when you have something to say, they will listen.

My boss, Marc Lourdes, Country Editor of Yahoo Malaysia spoke about this very issue a few months back, together with other members of the media. It’s a long watch, but if you’re an entrepreneur, the below video is crucial to your success with the media.

Do you have any stories to share? Post them in your comments!


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Michael

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