There’s no denying that this has been another record-breaking year in tech. From mega-fundings to the constant drumbeat of IPOs, there are a lot of opportunities right now for high-growth startups– which means it’s also increasingly challenging to break through. While reporters are constantly looking for fresh, interesting, and relevant businesses to cover, more than half are getting pitched at least 20 times per day. So how can your founder’s story stand out amidst all the white noise?
Our tech clients have raised hundreds of millions and exited for multiple billions. But not all founders and startup stories are created equal. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as issuing a press release or asking the media to profile you and then sitting back and waiting for your target outlets to tell your story. If it were, companies would be issuing press releases and media pitches left and right. But with the right approach and the passion and energy to back it up, cutting through the clutter is possible.
Data and stats are your allies
Like investors, reporters crave proof that your story is worthy of their attention. If you’re solving the next big problem in fintech, martech, or fill-in-the-blank-tech, you need to pony up with the statistics that show why this problem needs your solution. And you don’t need to invest millions into market research to get this kind of data. Many times, it’s just a matter of looking at your pitch deck and selecting the stats that will stand out.
Market point of view is critical
Founders who experience success in the media are often the ones who have a strong perspective on the market their business is competing in. While every founder undoubtedly has a company story they wish to share, it’s imperative to be able to address the bigger market picture. For example, Billy Libby, founder of Hybrid Venture Fund Upper90, recently shared with TechCrunch his insights about how startups should think differently about fundraising by using predictive data and leveraging credit and equity. Clearly sharing his point of view positions Upper90 as the leader in this market.
Don’t be afraid to highlight the personal
Every leader has a personal story in addition to the problem their company is solving. The savviest founders understand that showing their human side will help them be more relatable to others. The founder of Lumanu, for instance, is passionate about sharing his entrepreneurial journey as a Vietnamese immigrant and how this experience shaped how he fundraises and scales his business. Whether it’s highlighting lessons learned along the way, or a particular challenge overcome, showing vulnerability and connectedness can help persuade reporters that you have something important to share—beyond just the business case.
Dial-up the simplicity
It’s critical for founders to be able to explain their technology in simple terms. Sticking to easy-to-understand terminology and delivering focused messages can go a long way in attracting the attention of reporters. As tech becomes more complicated, reporters can’t possibly have an in-depth understanding of every product or service; it’s up to founders to make this information easily accessible and engaging.
Refresh to the news cycle
Make sure that your story is actually newsworthy and ties in with the current news cycle. By connecting your point of view to the stories that already have the public’s attention, your point of view will automatically become more relevant and interesting. For instance, the founder of Frank, a financial wellness platform that targets college affordability that was recently acquired by JPMorgan Chase, stays current on the changing laws around student debt and makes herself available throughout the college application cycle so that she can augment the existing conversation.
Look across multiple channels
Every founder likely dreams of being featured in global news publications. But the savviest companies know that this kind of coverage doesn’t happen overnight. It requires time to form relationships with reporters and build up to it. They know that there are a variety of outlets and channels that provide important audiences for their story. By including smaller, target media outlets and leveraging platforms like blogs and LinkedIn, or self-publishing in Medium, companies can build momentum and credibility, which will help convince the bigger outlets that they are worth covering when the time is right.
Not every founder’s story can be told. But the ones that do get attention give reporters the relevant commentary, compelling storylines, and authentic perspectives that are needed to secure a place in the media spotlight.
Cari Sommer is the CEO of RAISE Communications.