As the founder and CEO of a public relations agency, I know that you’re proud of that major project you crushed or that new senior hire you finally snagged after 10 rounds of interviews. Those wins feel — and are — big to venture-backed startups, so it's easy to assume they’re breaking news. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.
Media outlets will not usually write up feature stories about every development or change in your business.
So, what’s not considered "newsworthy?" Over the 10 years of working with media and startups at my company, here’s what I've found reporters are typically not interested in, generally speaking, and what could earn you coverage instead.
1. You've developed a new feature.
You just launched a feature to your platform, which is still offered at the same price and for the same people. While your team might have worked months on it, realize that to the outside world, it’s not a big development.
What could work: Consider pitching this to trade-specific media. Those outlets typically test features and review them for niche audiences, which might be ideal for your specific industry, such as in supply chain or human resources applications.
2. You've landed a major client that can’t be named.
You finally landed the whale, but the whale doesn’t want to be seen in association with your company just yet. This is common for enterprise startups that often have their “promotion” terms of their agreements redlined. If you’re not able to share the client's name, you can try to classify the win with something along the lines of “a major player in the home refinance market.” But be warned: Outlets tend to be turned off by the lack of transparency.
What could work: Work for new partners who are thrilled at the results you’ve delivered and who are more than happy to tout your partnership. Then you have data and insights to which you can point.
3. Your founder spoke on a panel.
This one seemed to happen a lot before stay-at-home orders and social-distancing measures were issued regarding the coronavirus. Founders would be excited to be on a panel and at the center of a stage overlooking a big audience. But unless the founder leads a major company, a quote from them likely isn’t of major interest to the media.
What could work: Recycle that panel conversation into a thought leadership piece that you can leverage on your owned platforms, such as LinkedIn, Medium, your blog and Instagram stories.
4. You (along with many other people) won an award.
Did your company make it onto a list of fastest-growing companies, along with hundreds of other companies? Or was your business named one of the best places to work, along with 99 other brands? As great as these recognitions are, they don’t necessarily warrant further praise by the media.
What could work: Wrap the distinctions into your press kit, pitches, career pages and owned media platforms, including your newsletters, investor relations decks and careers page. Instead of the standard blog post saying, “We’re so honored with this award,” consider digging deeper with your C-suite on why this award matters now, why you got this award and what you’re doing next because of this recognition.
5. You have a new C-suite hire.
Unless your company is Facebook, Amazon, Netflix or Google (or a company to a similar caliber), a C-suite hire isn’t going to turn heads in the media. There’s a sheer volume of companies out there scoring top-notch talent every day, even amid Covid-19. There’s simply not enough media bandwidth to cover them all.
What could work: Tie the new hire announcement into a funding or major partner hire. You should still do a blog post announcing the new hire. And if they are well known in your industry, trade media might cover the move.
6. You're entering a new store.
If you’re going to pitch your debut to a brick-and-mortar retailer, be ready to back it with high sales numbers. Otherwise, most media outlets don't consider this a newsworthy development.
What could work: Think of ways you can attach your entry into a retail giant with a bigger story. For example, if you’re launching in CVS stores across the nation, share your business growth tied to the brick-and-mortar expansion in CVS. Then kick off an influencer campaign that showcases the product in the store.
7. You added an advisor or board member.
If a major celebrity in your industry has joined your board, then you have hot news to share. Otherwise, having a new advisor or board member isn't front-page news.
What could work: See if this new advisor or board member is willing to be featured in future press opportunities. If that’s the case, be sure to give them the proper media training so you’re ready when that opportunity comes knocking.
8. Your company is gaining momentum (in percentages).
The fact that your company boasts 1,000% year-over-year growth is definitely great news for you, but it’s not newsworthy at face value. Thousands of companies are rapidly growing all the time. It’s so common, in fact, that magazines have started annual lists (see No. 4 on this list).
What could work: Share hard data on your year-over-year revenue and customer growth, along with insights into the industry trends driving your company's success. For example, a reporter would likely want to know how Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of your technology. Bonus points if you can get a customer to be quoted in the news release.