As someone who blogs about entrepreneurship, one of the pet peeves I have when dealing with Singapore startups is their amazing lack of preparedness when I ask them for more information.
“Errr… You can check out my website?” is not the answer I was looking for. In any case, I was already there. And your blog too. There was nothing remotely useful in either, which is why I’m asking you.
Today journalist Hedirman Supian, from the paper’s technology desk, says startups should make it easy for investors and the media to get in touch with them and learn a few basic practices that will go a long way in helping them get the word out on their companies and products:
“(E)ntrepreneurs have to learn how to be media savvy, no one’s going to do your PR for free – it’s part and parcel of owning a business and it’s not exactly rocket science. So you’ve got a great service or product. So what? It’s quite telling if you don’t know how to take advantage of the web to market yourself. Fortunately, there are plenty of rich resources online (presentation videos, podcasts and blog posts) from the likes of Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki or Yongfook – you can be sure there’s already someone who’s already been through what you have, so piggyback on their advice so you don’t exactly have to learn from scratch.”
In case you don’t have the time to scour through all those wonderful resources, here are some tips on what to prepare yourself with before the media comes a-calling:
Your Press Kit
The first thing is to have your most basic but key information ready, which should be put together as a press kit which you can easily share with them.
Items that you should have in your press kit:
- A backgrounder – Background information on the company
- Biographies of the key founders
- A fact sheet detailing key statistics and messages
- Images of products, your company logo and profile pictures of the founders. High resolution, of course.
- For dealing with social or new media, an online tip sheet with links to URLs to video resources, or websites (such as those of happy customer testimonials) is infinitely useful
- Your contact details
Contrary to popular opinion the most critical is not a press release, which you only need if you have something valuable to say, such as the launch of a new critical feature.
The good news is that most of the information you already have in your business plan. You have a business plan, don’t you?
Your Key Message
The journalist has a story to write, and usually has an angle in mind. He/she has limited space (and patience). What can you tell him/her that will make the most sense to his/her story, while bringing the most value to your startup?
Make this very succinct and short. It’s like an elevator pitch. If the journalist can write only one sentence about you or your company, what would it be?
Extending Your Story
Always keep a list of referrals and references ready – investors, customers, or business partners for example. Happy ones, of course. Share them readily: “If you like, you can contact the CIO of XXX company, who has used our product and really liked it.”
Reporters like outside sources to help lend some credibility to their story, and an external testimonial always make you look better.
Make Use of Online Assets
Put your press kit online. If you can’t create a “Press Room” tab on your website, put it under your “About” section. Provide an email address or contact number on the site for them to call you – don’t make them fill in a feedback form, for goodness sake.
Also think about using:
- Slideshare, to upload a really nice presentation and sharing it easily.
- Skype, so now you can be get interviewed from around the world.
- Flickr, for sharing images. But do create a specific set for their use – so they won’t use the picture of you running down the beach half-drunk and semi-naked.
These may seem commonsensical, but like Hedirman says, “you’d be surprised how many local startups miss these things out”. So do yourself a favor, guys, and prepare yourselves well. Make their jobs easier, and they’ll make it worth your while.