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At a Glance
Elon Musk was unhappy last year over some reporters’ coverage of Tesla accidents. So what did he do? He simply shut down Tesla’s entire public relations team (PR). The question here is, how did it impact Tesla or Elon Musk?
Analyzing a tweet by Elon Musk, post reports on Tesla’s accidents will provide answers. The tweet read,
It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage https://t.co/6gD8MzD6VU— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2018
Many emotions circle the tweet but the essential point it brings out is how neither Musk nor Tesla needs to reach out to journalists, asking them to cover them. It is the other way around. Journalists scout for news at Tesla, or Elon’s Musk’s ventures, and even on Elon Musk himself.
For a startup, which just began galloping or for a company that has not received much attention, booking themselves a column in the business or tech section of a newspaper or finding themselves on renowned news websites can be pretty challenging. But it is not impossible. Suggestions and recommendations have been in abundance for a very long time. But picking the right ones out of them to push your voice across to platforms will distinguish you from the hundred others who are trying.
Here are some things that growing startups can do to leverage their PR outputs to the larger public. (Taken from reports)
Moving beyond a quid pro quo
For giants and FAANG, already in the public’s eyes, there is more input from the side of journalists than from them. Much like the case of Tesla, any news from big tech or other giants is more likely to make headlines than a startup that had just launched its new platform or raised an investment. Hence, the motto of ‘I give you news, you give me publicity’ does not work in this case.
Here is where focusing more on adding value to the reporters’ than getting the content across would help in the initial stages of outreach. Understanding the specific style of reporting of a journalist or an organization has proved effective. Media monitoring- thorough scrutiny of the types of blogs, articles, and posts that the journalist or organization covers prior to pitching content to them shall help.
Also, the outreach emails at the start must be communicated in a manner that corresponds to the organization’s interests that we are pitching to. Doing this shall ensure that even subtle content can shine in importance and has a better chance of going online.
Show your founders instead
A journalist prefers quotes from top executives. The excitement is usually more when they quote the CEO or the Founder of a company than a marketing or sales head. Hearing from the founder on the type of solutions a company offers, the kind of difference it makes, or even the complications or challenges involved in scaling up shall create a huge difference, reducing the strain of attaining the reach.
It also has to be kept in mind that it is unreasonable to continue asking founders’ to pitch in with articles and quotes a bit too often. A quality PR team must scout for specific areas where a founder’s statements can specifically create impactful and innovative opinions.
Curating these thoughts then, and pushing the content out while stressing the need for the content you have pitched, shall be way more effective than traditional pitches quoting simple hard news material filled with just employee quotes.
Emphasizing the pertinence
PR professionals outnumber journalists. A journalist may thus be clogged with press release statements and formal pitches. Reports quoting studies state that the number is around 26000 pitches per year, over 70 per day. Filtering the ones fit to go online from the lot is a mammoth task.
This is why the need to highlight the importance of the ‘why of your’ story becomes a differentiating factor while media organizations perform their editorial discussion. In addition to this, not giving a fully baked story, giving required space and room for journalists and media organizations to collaborate with you before publishing the report is a must. This is because journalists usually prefer their own work element to reflect in stories rather than a replicated press release.
Not much out of “closed-door convos”
While confidential details must not be disclosed, it is essential to remember that not every meeting needs to happen behind closed-doors. Lifting unreasonable restrictions on constricted communications for the PR desk, be it external or internal in an organization, and instead of letting them be involved in areas such as marketing syncs, product channels, can help.
Slightly beyond a professional connection
Generally, unless they are earth-shattering news, media organizations and independent journalists prefer considering pitches and news releases for publishing from a known source or agency to maintain the relationship they have built. Therefore, it is vital to move slightly beyond an all-professional relationship and establish trust with the organization or individual. This comes to aid, especially when the information we want to be published does not necessarily meet the “importance” statistics set by them.