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Media tips

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aa18-oct-nov-2006-media-tipsOne of the many reasons I love the work I do as a freelance journalist is that I get to spend a lot of time talking to emerging Australian technology companies. There is a vast wealth of incredible innovation in this country, embodied within hundreds of companies that will reshape the world in their own small way.

So many, in fact, that it is practically impossible to write about all of them. And certainly, out of numbers that large, some are more worth writing about than others.

Getting an article about your company into the right newspaper or magazine can do a lot to increase awareness, and hopefully lead to a flow on in terms of revenue. Often, however, companies fail to achieve the sort of publicity they deserve.

I get asked regularly by entrepreneurs what they can do to increase their exposure in the press, so here are some tips on how to help ensure that your company is the one that is written about:

DO YOUR RESEARCH.

No two publications are the same – what works as a story in BRW is very different to what works in The Australian, The Age or The Sydney Morning Herald (I know – I write for all of them). Think about the type of stories that each publication runs, the audience that reads it, and how you can tailor your own story to suit what that audience will be interested in hearing.

NO ONE LOVES YOUR COMPANY AS MUCH AS YOU DO.

The deeply immersive process of building a business can leave entrepreneurs trapped in a bubble, where their new creation takes over their life and they lose perspective. Unless you are curing a lifethreatening illness, no one is ever going to be as excited about your company as you are – particularly journalists, who hear about new companies every week. Remember that you still need to sell your concept on its merits, in comparison to dozens of other non-competing but possibly even more interesting companies.

GET PERMISSION FROM YOUR CUSTOMERS TO MENTION THEM

A new product or service that has no users cannot be easily validated, but having customers who can talk about what you are doing together will go a long way to boosting your credibility.

FIND MULTIPLE METHODS OF DESRIBING WHAT YOU DO

Journalists cover very wide beats, and often do not have the in-depth knowledge of your field of work that they will need to instantly understand what you are doing. If your product or service is complicated in nature, try to find analogies from real life situations that you can use for comparison. Also, come up with hypothetical examples of how your product can be used, that can help walk the journalist through the concept.

ARM YOURSELF WITH INFORMATION
Journalists will also not immediately understand the size of the potential opportunity that you are working on. Prepare yourself with the relevant market statistics that can help to demonstrate this. And use real numbers wherever you can – statements such as ‘we are expecting strong growth’ or ‘we see a big opportunity’ are next to useless.

BE PREPARED

You will not be allowed to see stories once they are written (i.e., before the publication comes out). It is not the done thing, so please do not ask. Focus instead on ensuring that you use your time talking to the journalist to clearly explain everything that you need to explain, so there should be no need to worry about them getting anything wrong.

Be sure to return calls and make appointments

Most journalists work on multiple stories at once. Failing to make yourself available for a phone call might see you forgo the one opportunity that you will have with that publication.

BE SELECTIVE

Journalists love an exclusive, and will be less keen to write about your company if it has appeared in rival publications.

Brad Howarth is a journalist and the author of ‘Innovation and the Emerging Markets: Where the Next Bulls Will Run’, a study on the challenges facing small Australian technology companies.

* Disclosure: In addition to his work as a freelance journalist, Brad Howarth is also a member of the national executive of AIMIA.

You can read his blog at lagrangepoint.typepad.com

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