As a startup, one of the biggest hurdles you’re going to face is building an initial reputation. With zero customers, zero brand recognition and little in the way of capital you could use to bolster your image, you’ll have to rely on alternative outlets and inexpensive tactics to give you early traction. One of the best ways to do this is by getting your startup featured in media coverage, but doing that is often easier said than done.

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The benefits of media coverage

Getting your business covered, or at least mentioned, in high-profile news articles or other publications can be a massive benefit for your brand:

  • Brand visibility and reputation. First and foremost, you’ll get your brand recognized by a wider range of people, and you’ll start getting noticed as more of a major player or thought leader, especially if you’re covered consistently over time.
  • User acquisition. The mere mention of your brand name can lead more people to your website and social media accounts, facilitating your user acquisition strategy immensely.
  • Investor and partner interest. In your early stages, you may also attract partners, vendors and investors to your startup -- without having to hunt them down yourself.
  • Talent and recruitment. Successful startups depend on successful teams, and your media exposure may help you naturally attract more talent to your business.

How to get media coverage

Use these tactics to get more media exposure for your startup:

1. Submit a press release.

This is the fastest, and some may argue easiest, way to get media exposure for your brand. The first key (and biggest challenge) is to find a newsworthy event for your startup. If you’re literally starting up, you could do a piece about your launch; otherwise, you could write about a recent funding round, a major milestone or a big event coming up for your company.

Through a platform like PR Web or PR Newswire, you can submit this press release to thousands of potential news platforms at once, some of whom will inevitably pick up and publish your piece. Press releases probably do little (if anything) for your SEO, but they can have a positive impact on your branded search results, helping with online reputation management.

2. Reach out to individual journalists.

Alternatively, you can identify and work with individual journalists to get your startup featured in a story. This could be good if you’re looking for a more in-depth piece, like an interview, or if you want a regular contact with whom you can work for all your company’s future announcements.

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The tough part here is finding a willing journalist. So, start by researching some of the major publications in your industry and reaching out to individual staff members (you can usually find their contact information on the publisher’s website or on LinkedIn). PR companies often specialize in establishing relationships with journalists for such purposes. If you’re the DIY type, here’s a walk-through on how to identify and pitch journalists your story.

3. 'Newsjack' existing stories.

This is a risky move, but it could help you generate more attention for your brand. There are a few different ways to newsjack an existing story, but all of them share a common theme: taking advantage of the popularity of a previously existing story for your own benefit. For example, you could do a write-up on your startup’s opinions about a given news event, or jump on the bandwagon by taking action in line with or against a major company action covered in the news story. This type of move could get you featured in follow-up pieces.

4. Get involved in local events.

Keep an eye out for local events that are sure to attract media attention, and deliberately get your startup involved. For example, you might sign up as a speaker for an industry event or convention, or you might volunteer your staff for a charity event.

If you want an extra chance to be noticed, keep your team brandishing your company colors, and consider making a formal announcement, such as one through a press release, to make your attendance known. You could even host your own local events to generate even more focus for your brand.

5. Stand out on social media through a strong content marketing campaign.

Many modern journalists and media publications look to social media as a source of material and inspiration, so if you can stand out there, you’ll have a far higher likelihood of getting featured in some capacity. Publish content regularly as part of a strong content marketing strategy, and engage with influencers and others in your industry to build a loyal following. From there, almost any announcement you make (or content you publish) will have more visibility.

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