The need for marketing in a successful business strategy is indisputable. However, what many new founders tend to overlook is the critical need for public relations (PR) when trying to establish a strong and long-lasting brand.
From a big-picture view, marketing is focused on growing revenue, while public relations is more focused on building brand awareness and maintaining a positive brand perception. But PR does much more than simply help build a positive reputation. Tech startup PR also helps companies reach targeted audiences, drive interest and demand, and support the sales funnel. PR helps gain recognition organically, which has a longer-lasting impact than paid channels. Additionally, PR can also help increase voice in the market amongst competitors through press coverage, op-eds, speaking at events, and winning awards.
It’s apparent that a public relations strategy can be largely beneficial to someone trying to grow their brand and establish long-lasting market impact. The key to having success in PR? Being a startup that is newsworthy. “Newsworthiness” is anything that sets your startup apart from the crowd or gives people a reason to care about what your company is doing.
In this article, we will cover common newsworthy announcements, plus what media audiences those announcements are newsworthy to.
Startup VC funding
Venture capital (VC) funding is a major announcement opportunity for your startup. It means that you will have the funds needed to innovate, expand your business, and go after market share. Because VC funding is a significant accomplishment and usually means more product innovation and industry disruption, there is always a good chance reporters at local and national news outlets will want to learn more, which can often lead to higher-than average media coverage for an announcement.
The funding amount is the first thing to consider when analyzing if your VC funding is newsworthy. Typically, 7-figure funding amounts and above have a good chance of gaining interest from reporters. It should be noted that journalists prefer hard numbers when it comes to news about raising capital. Business statistics such as revenue, customers, data and profits help reporters sift facts from hype. If the funding amount is material, be sure to disclose that upfront. A general rule of thumb is the higher the value of the capital raise, the more interest it may receive from the news media.
VC funding uses
As covered in the section above, the amount of VC funding could sometimes be classified as newsworthy depending on the volume or material amount. But VC funding is nuanced, and sometimes other details around the funding contribute to its newsworthiness more than the investment volume. For example, if the funding is being used to expand into a new industry and cause disruption, this would be considered newsworthy and would warrant a press release and media strategy aimed at the targeted industry vertical. On the other hand, if the funding is being used to build out corporate functions or increase development on a project already in the works, the funding may not be as interesting to reporters.
Be sure to call out what is occurring in the industry you are targeting and why this is the ideal time to tackle the specific problem or challenge your startup is looking to solve. Anytime you are trying to secure news for a funding announcement, it is always a good idea to disclose how your startup is planning to spend the capital.
Product innovation on the part of a startup is often considered newsworthy. For very niche innovations within a specific tech sector, the news may be interesting for trade publications within that tech sector, but not so much with national outlets like TechCrunch or Wired. Product innovations that will have a broad impact on various industries and audiences (e.g., advances in AI technology), or that will revolutionize the way that industry operates, will stand a better chance at gaining more national attention.
One way to increase the newsworthiness of your product innovation? Announce it at a trade show. Trade shows are a great way to create buzz around your company and get your news in front of multiple reporters and industry influencers at once. Any announcements at trade shows should be part of a comprehensive strategy that dovetails with other marketing initiatives supporting the event.
Similar to gaining coverage for VC funding, milestone announcements are usually more impactful when numbers are tied to them. Some meaningful milestones, for instance, include number of users, number of transactions, aggregate amount of transactions, sustainability impact, ESG progress, etc. Further, it’s always a good idea to include verbiage about when your company set the milestone goal, plus how much time and work it took to achieve the milestone. Typically, tech industry and trade outlets will be the most interested in milestone news. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with a PR professional to explore how to increase the impact of the milestone news within a national audience.
Mergers & Acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions within the tech industry will always be newsworthy for local business news media. M&A activity not only shows company growth but also points to growth within the local market. News around mergers or acquisitions can also be of interest to industry publications, especially if your startup has a focus on a particular industry.
It’s less likely that merger and acquisition news will be of interest to national publications. Unless the partnership includes one or two name-brand companies that are major industry players, or the partnership is happening in a high-profile industry, national publications will often ignore pitches on M&A announcements. Occasionally, business news outlets such as TechCrunch or Fortune, will consider the news, but expectations for coverage when it comes to M&A should be limited to hyper-local media and industry news outlets.
Bonus tech startup PR tip:
No matter how newsworthy your news is, there are a few things you can do to make your story more interesting. First, offer an interview or quotes from the company’s CEO, CTO, CFO, etc. A C-suite leader will always add credibility to the story, but short of that a product expert or VP level spokesperson will do. Second, always look for the human perspective. The news may be a big deal for your company’s growth, but consider how it will affect customers and the industry as a whole. Finding the human interest perspective will always sell better with reporters than a straight-up business-focused narrative. Lastly, consider the kind of news you are interested in reading. Are you drawn to articles about a funding round that will help a company build out its corporate function? Or would you rather see a story about how a company is innovating and disrupting within a competitive industry? Tell the story you would choose to read.
There is no one-size-fits-all rule book when it comes to tech startup PR If you still aren’t sure what announcements are newsworthy, let alone the best strategy for media outreach, contact one of the Swyft B2B tech PR professionals to learn more.