Partnering with the Press

Source: Chris Dixon blog, Feb 2012

  • Don’t be afraid to ask what the rules are. Is this on or off the record? If they are writing an article about your company, do they require exclusivity? What is the angle of the story?
  • Don’t use a PR firm
  • Treat journalists with respect.
  • Unless you’re a super hot startup, the existence of your company is not a news story. Exclusives of launches, financings and acquisitions are usually news stories. Trend stories that you are part of could be a news story. Relating your startup or data your startup generates to something already newsworthy (journalists call this “pegging”) can dramatically increase your chances of getting covered.
  • Whether you like it or not, the press will put your company into a category, and might run “horserace” stories comparing how the companies in your category are doing. The best you can do here is to try to choose which category you’ll be put into.
  • Try to put yourself in the mindset of the journalist. How will this story get them on Techmeme or featured by their editors? What were their most successful recent stories? Do background research on any reporter before talking and read a bunch his/her articles.
  • Don’t just contact reporters when you need them: try to be helpful even when you don’t. Sometimes, I get calls to talk about, say, the state of the venture market or asking for some background on a tech sector that is new to the journalist. My guess is they appreciate this and are more responsive when I contact them about a possible story.
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