When we announced Pulley’s latest funding round, we skipped the usual PR agency approach.
We knew that PR firms get coverage by pitching a story to reporters and that their relationships help them to run a smooth process.
But even when working with a firm, the story has to come from you. You have the most context on your product & audience.
We decided to skip the middleman and ran our own process to receive coverage from TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and Axios.
Here's how to pitch your story to get coverage without a PR agency.
You have two options for getting your story out there:
The difference: an exclusive increases the chance of any coverage. A successful embargo approach gets you wider coverage.
We opted for the embargo approach, as we were confident that our pitch and story were compelling enough to get traction in multiple publications, maximizing our potential reach.
If you decide to run with this approach, target the publication your buyer reads (i.e., a specialized trade magazine vs. CNN).
Optimize your story for revenue acquisition rather than brand awareness.
You can make your story more compelling by giving reporters an exclusive piece of detail.
Both approaches have their place. We took the embargo route to maximize our prospects of broad coverage.
It's your company. Choose the route that fits best.
Whichever approach you choose, start prepping at least 30 days before launch. Use your launch date as an external deadline to align the team.
It's a forcing function to ship new products and clarify messaging. This is why large companies throw conferences. Deadlines force progress.
“ACME raised funding” is not a good pitch. Hundreds of companies raise funding each month.
Make your pitch stand out by being either:
Don't sell. Add value.
Pulley coupled our funding announcement with the launch of Seed, our free plan for early-stage startups.
We knew the macro was tough. We wanted to help founders raising get to the first stage. We led with that value in our press releases.
The press kit helps reporters write their articles. Your goal is to make their job easy and remove barriers to them publishing your story.
The typical press kit includes:
Pro tip: Include shots of the product and founder. Cover photos of people get more clicks.
Feel free to copy our template.
The best place to start here is with warm referrals to reporters through your existing network. Investors and fellow founders are great people to ask.
Make their job easy; write an email pitch for them to forward.
After intros, scale to outbound.
For tech, find reporters at TechCrunch, CrunchBase, BI, Axios, Fortune, and whoever covers your space.
You can contact multiple reporters at the same publication, but don’t mass email. Do your research and personalize the note.
Be respectful; don't demand coverage. Reporters are incredibly busy, and they don't owe you anything.
Be thankful they took the time to respond and express those thanks explicitly.
If they write about your startup, build a relationship. Send them tidbits about your space to keep the contact warm. Work now will pay off later when you’ve got another story to publish.
In the week leading up, make a list of everything that can go wrong. Then, do a dry run before the day of launch:
Be paranoid and prepare for the best case where your launch goes viral.
PR is not a scalable G2M strategy. Use it as a booster to accelerate other marketing (e.g., content, outbound, ads).
The post-launch trough of sorrow is real. Unless clicks translate to revenue, it doesn't matter.
Use your press release to generate top-of-funnel interest and drive traffic to conversion assets (e.g., your website).
Keep going! If you get press coverage, congrats.
If you don't, follow the path of Airbnb and launch & launch & launch again.
Read next: How to Scale a Startup in Just 3 Months
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