Pitch perfection is not a process that is procured and polished by plainly purporting a plan or purpose. We need to unpack certain key factors that make up the pitch so as to dramatically increase the likelihood of it being covered by a publication.
Now, let’s unpack the components of the perfect pitch together: the sector that your startup is in, the relevant publications, the relevant contacts at that publication, why your startup is relevant to them and what angle you are going to go for in the pitch itself.
The sector that your startup is in
This may seem blindingly obvious to you. Since you were the originator of the idea, you’ve reared it from its inception and created it into a flourishing company. So, you know the sector that your startup is in, right?
Well, you’d be surprised. There is clearly one sector that your startup relates to, but when we are thinking about pitching to journalists, it’s essential that you open Pandora’s box and explore all the possibilities of what comes out. Think broadly, think niche, think creatively. If you’re certain that there is one clear-cut sector that your startup is in, then that’s absolutely fine too.
The relevant publications
The UK media landscape is vast. There will be a lot of publications that cover the sector your startup is in and lots that branch out from that publication. A simple Google search will pull various publications, but do not disregard the old fashioned way, of seeing what is on the shelf at a newsagents or book shop.
Securing coverage for your startup can sometimes be a case of: “What came first, the chicken or the egg?”. By this, we mean that any publication, from niche to national, can be the perfect place for a feature on your startup. You just need to find them, or they need to find you and then you have the basis for a great story. Searching high and low can yield unexpected results, and you never know until you try. So, why not?
The relevant contacts at that publication
It’s often said, it’s not what you know but who you know. And, for ill or for triumph, this is often true. This can seem daunting, as you are an early-stage company that probably does not have any connections to UK media journalists, and most definitely is not on coupla-pints-down-the-pub-on-a-Friday terms with David Pemsel, CEO at The Guardian. So how on Earth can we break down the traditionally high, and guarded, castle wall of The Guardian to get your startup featured in there?
We wish we had the answer. To put it simply, there isn’t one. Even if you were chummy with Pemsel, there’s no guarantee that the story would run. But, let’s forget one of the largest newspapers in the world as a target for now. Unless your startup is a unicorn, you need to start at a grass-roots level and grow your way up.
Twitter is a fantastic place to find the relevant contacts at the publication that you want to pitch to. Even if their email is not listed in their bio, you can still, of course, tweet them. But, like an invitation to dinner to meet your significant other's parents for the first time, you don’t want to come unprepared.
Why your startup is relevant to them
Be ready to pour your heart out with how your startup is just the perfect fit for their publication. Take a theme, expand on it and do it with gusto. You need to give the journalist an offer that they can’t refuse.
Scour their recent articles, their tweets and so on to really get an idea of what makes them tick. If you can present to them a fully-formed story on your behalf, where they can add their ideas easily and form a collaborative piece, you’re already well on the way to getting coverage in the publication that they work for.
What angle you are going for in the pitch
Maths teachers often say that the only angles you need to know about are acute, right, obtuse and straight angles. Thankfully we are not in maths classes anymore, we are in PR, and so there’s an overabundance of angles that we can use. These are crucial to your pitch as they are the backbone behind the whole thing, the thread that binds it together if you will.
There are no rules here, you can be as creative as you like, within reason. The journalist that you are pitching to will likely have seen a startup from the sector that yours is in before. Ten, twenty, thirty or more times, easily. Spinning the ordinary is a sure-fire way to get your creative juices flowing when thinking about angles that you can go for in your pitch. What’s a part of your business that you could flip on its head, to get chins wagging, word of mouth spreading and social media users sharing?
Is there a high percentage of your customers or users that populate a certain area of London? Pitch to those local media outlets, perhaps relating to an event that’s going on there and how your startup could streamline the queueing experience, or your catering-finder platform could make their food needs simpler, and so on.
Your startup is as unique and brilliant as you are, so we will leave it up to you to think of some more angles that you could use in your pitch. Don’t be afraid to be creative!
BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMS.