A while back I worked with a European startup whose founder and CEO was used to getting by on his good looks and charm. Searching for ways to get press coverage, he thought Marie Claire had the right audience, so he levered his GQ-style dress and sophistication to make his way to the editor. They did a piece on him, and 4–5 painfully slow months later, the article came out.
When the piece finally showed up in publication, his company name was misspelled and the all-important URL got left out. The core description of the company was bypassed because the CEO failed to have accessible copy- and paste-able soundbites for the publication to use.
Editors are often under huge pressure to move quickly, and will supplement their interviews with a quick visit to a company’s website to grab verbatim sentences for the article. That means your press kit should clearly state your messaging and include all of the right information.
There are three major takeaways from this guy’s unfortunate result:
1.) Focus your press kit on clear, branded messages.
Press kits today seem to be oriented toward their visual branding more than their messaging. The central component of the press kit is, “Here’s my logo, downloadable in 10 colors and sizes.” Instead, you should have 1 or 2 pieces of visual branding with the core focus of your press kit being on your company story — available in short, medium, and long versions.
The short version should be a simple, tight soundbite. The medium description should cover what your startup is trying to accomplish and what you’re offering your customers. Your long piece can be up to a paragraph that adds more color to your motivations and intentions, along with the value you’re offering or the implications your technology will have on the market.
All of these should be copy- and paste-able, meaning they’re worded exactly how you’d want them in a publication. An editor can quickly lift one and use it without having to scour your site and try to create the perfect messaging themselves, and without the risk of botching it. Again, the reason to do this is to reduce how much the editor is putting (critical) things into their own wording.
2.) Give your press kit a founder story and a company or product core story
In putting together your press kit, you want to think about giving the media as much to work with as possible. Pull out coverable topics for them or introduce something surprising about your approach.
Founders’ stories are interesting and can add depth and memorability to your company, but they won’t hook line and sink your target audience. For that, you need clear descriptions of what your company provides.
The guy above had his personal story become the focus of Marie Claire, because they knew that their readership would be interested in the tale of a handsome entrepreneur. They had no reason to center on the company he had created, and he didn’t push them to. If your company’s core story is clear and shows the innovation you’re bringing to your customers, however, the media will have more to work with when it comes to pulling out coverable topics and won’t have as much room for focusing on anything else.
As a rule of thumb, you want to appear so interesting that dozens of article angles about your team, your product, your philosophy, the problem you’re solving, or how customers are getting their needs met through what you offer will leap off the page. To learn more about this part of your press kit, read my guide on what makes a great brand story.
3.) You have to create the focus with repetition, and repetition, and more repetition.
Nobody cares about your company as much as you, so it’s in your hands to be diligent about clarifying your story. Do it over and over until they know that any coverage of you would be incomplete without detailing your company’s message and that your company’s name or site is never botched. When you give a phone or in-person interview, you should be verbally conveying your messaging at every turn and it should be as clear and intentioned as your written core story.
Think about how you want your company to be talked about — from specific words to how it fits into the readership’s worldview — and communicate it that way to the press. If you’re just starting to tackle this very important piece of your branding, experiment with language choice and verbiage when talking to people about your company. Gauge how it resonates with different people and use that data to settle on the right messaging for your company.
You have the opportunity to decide how people see your company, so take the time to tailor your messaging again until it’s perfect.
Sounds good. Whats next?
- Learn why press coverage is only a bandaid for other problems.
- Get more out of what you write! Review this informative guide on repackaging your old content.