Five Things Every Startup Founder Needs to Know About Getting Media Coverage

A surprising number of the founders I meet are planning to send out a press release or to cold email an important publication to pitch their startup. Neither of these approaches is particularly effective. Press releases work best for established companies – when Apple sends out a release for a groundbreaking new product everyone will cover it -- otherwise it ends up being used only by minor blogs and websites. Cold emails are also rarely successful simply because you are just one in a very large crowd. But there are five things everyone should be doing if they hope to get coverage one day.

BE EASY TO FIND. At this very moment there is probably a journalist somewhere who is writing about your field and you would be mentioned if they could find you. They might try a Google search to see what comes up so make sure that you are easy to find. This is much easier than it sounds. All you need is a website and a few social media accounts to fill a page of Google search results. Google your name and keywords related to your business regularly. Make sure that people can find you.

BE EASY TO CONTACT. Believe it or not but more than once I have written about a company that was not my first choice just because the number one on my list was near impossible to contact. At the bottom of your home page make sure that there is an email address like “” or “”.  There should also be a phone number because some questions just can’t wait even a quick email turnround. And if you have a Twitter account – and you should – be sure than someone is monitoring the @ messages in case there’s an inquiry from the media.

BE RESPONSIVE. Once someone has tried to contact you get back to them very quickly to confirm that you have received the message and that you are interested in responding. Ask for clarification about the deadline and what is expected. Once you have taken the commitment deliver the answers on time. Rocket launches can be scrubbed, football games can be postponed but Tuesday’s newspaper will come out on Tuesday. There is no tolerance for late inputs. Respond too late and another company will fill your place.

BE CONCRETE. Some inputs from companies are completely unusable. Learn to explain what you do concretely without talking about being a “provider of technology solutions” or “leveraging synergies”. And don’t bother to say how excited you are. Nobody cares. Be careful to state the obvious. One especially common problem is for software companies to forget that not everyone makes software so they sometimes forget to mention it.

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. Just like everyone else media people tend to trust people they know more than strangers. Start early to build relationships with people in media. Be helpful even when you are not directly involved. If they are writing about a topic that you are qualified to comment on then be responsive, helpful and dependable. Then they will come back to you again and you get a reputation for being a good source, so maybe others ask you for comments, too. They when the day comes that you have an interesting story to pitch then people are more likely to listen to you.

This blog post is based on the lecture “What Every Startup Founder Needs to Know About Getting Media Coverage”. If you’d like to have this lecture at your meeting or event contact

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing on this and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan by email on, by phone at 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or through his website


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