How to get your startup in the media

Getting your startup in the media is the holy grail for many businesses. It's free coverage, getting your product in front of a potentially huge audience - what's not to love? But when editors and journalists get literally hundreds of pitches a day, how can you stand out?

Mous are the creators of an innovative solution that stops your headphones getting tangled or broken - an iPhone case which retracts them, keeping them nice and organised. Their concept gained a lot of attention in media outlets from the Metro to the Daily Mail, boosting interest in their product and netting them an over-funded Kickstarter campaign. Here are their tips for getting people writing about your startup.

Approaching journalists

Getting Mous featured in the media was a mixture of planned and unplanned approaches. Getting the Metro and Daily Mail on the launch of our Kickstarter was very much planned – I’ll take you through the journey.

Step 1: We reached out to the tech editors via Twitter, tweeting them pictures of our product (and got a response from the Daily Mail there).

Step 2: Emailed both of them with a press release and all the assets they needed, keeping it nice and snappy and quick to read. (Note: editors can sometimes receive up to 400 emails an hour – a catchy subject line and easy-to-digest email is critical!)

Step 3: Followed up with phone calls.

Step 4: In classic Mous fashion, we rocked up at their offices (they were both located in the same building), asking editors where they were until we found them. We pitched on the spot and that’s when we got the confirmation we’d be featured in both places. Being bold pays off!

In terms of unplanned approaches, once the biggies write about you all the medium and smallest bloggers and journalists will follow, along with international media outlets too!

We're now starting to approach the media again for our Christmas retail launch. Having the previous coverage has actually hindered our approach to media as we can’t play as much on being totally new.

The impact

Kickstarter enables you to directly measure the impact of articles on your campaign (only the ones that have significant impact). The Daily Mail and Metro not only brought us a significant amount of backers, but also gave us credibility (we could use the Daily Mail and Metro logo for an “as Featured in” image on our campaign page).

Maximising coverage

To maximise the benefits, we ensured all coverage we got linked directly to our campaign. Alternatively, for SEO reasons, get press to link to your website and ensure your website auto-forwards to your Kickstarter page for the duration. If people ever forgot to link to us, we’d chase them down!

Find the right angle

Oddly enough, the easiest bit of coverage we got was from The Telegraph when we emailed them with quite an eye catching subject line “No more headphone pocket sex” – I guess it helped us stand out amongst all their other boring emails!

Tips for startup founders approaching journalists

- Understand your customer and target audience: know who will find your product and service interesting, and  deduce which areas of the media will find you interesting - for example is it startup news, fashion, lifestyle, tech?

- Build a database: this a very boring process, but spend time going through target media outlets. Get the names of specific journalists, email addresses, and take other notes such as articles they’ve written that you may want to reference when reaching out to them (use a spreadsheet!)

- Massive shortcut for the above: Find other Kickstarters or products similar to yours, right click on their images and copy image URL, paste it into Google and find out who covered them.

- Spend time deciding on a) a catchy subject line and b) crafting the most snappy sentence or two that summarises what you do to go at the top of the email. It is these two elements that are most critical in grabbing the attention of a busy editor.

- Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone… or even just rock up at their office! Expect a super low conversion rate by emails – it’s just a reality.

- And lastly, from an emotional standpoint, don’t give up! We had so many no’s from the press and hundreds of ignored emails, but got one or twp big leads - and these led to a significant amount of coverage.