As an engineer who eventually found my way to marketing, let’s talk about this.
Programming notes: this post is n in a series of indeterminate length on GTM topics mainly for startup people, mainly leadership, mainly coming from non-GTM backgrounds. There’s a list at the end.
The press have agendas. They need to tell better stories, with unique points of view, that generate more interest (and eyeballs) than their competition. Consider their incentives. Like everyone else doing a job, they have incentives.
Give them reasons to listen to you. Establish your bona fides. Help them accomplish their goals.
Are you advancing their cause? If not, why do you expect them to advance yours?
They do better when they’re first with a story. Or the only one with a story. Or both. A good, exclusive story is the best outcome for a journalist of any stripe.
Attention spans being what they are, there’s a limit to how much detail and depth they can either consume or write with. Unless you’re a name brand in and of yourself, your airtime will be limited to one or two quotes — so make them good.
Long form stories, should you be lucky enough to be the focus of, are a different experience altogether.
And finally, most tech press want to be smarter about whatever topic they’re writing about. They’re interested and enjoy learning about technology, decoding the industry, etc. They want to provide more than just facts; going to levels of depth and analysis that make their readers smarter.
All under severe time pressure. So make yourself useful and trust-able:
Media training. Get some. Or the poor man’s version: find your friendly marketer and have them role play interviews so you can get practice.
Yes please. Know your data well and have it down. Be able to answer questions about your company and market off the top of your head accurately. Things to be armed with:
Better yet, have sound bites and quotes from multiple sources, including yourself, that support your points.
Figure out who the specific, important press and outlets are for you. Which ones cover your space? Which ones have the attention of the same people you want attention from?
Read their work, learn their beat. Find mutual ground. Target your pitches, briefings, and commentary to their areas of interest specifically.
Build relationships. Be intentional. Treat them like people.
Make yourself available to provide background info and color commentary for their articles, even if they have nothing to do with you, and even if you aren’t cited.
Point to useful resources like industry reports, analysts and other people who might provide insight.
Pass along leads to stories to them. But don’t break any laws. :) For example, notice something obscure or buried change on someone’s website which suggests they’ve had a legal event of some kind? Point it out.
If you don’t know how to treat people like people, learn. If you’re a sociopath, develop the mannerisms. If you’re a severe introvert, get someone else to do it. Find a face for your company that can be the press face. If you’ve got no one, get outside professionals. Agencies and freelancers are aplenty.
They mostly suck. Good ones for you will have a few common features: