A fresh approach to media coverage for startups
I love hearing stories from real entrepreneurs so it was great to speak to Patrick Drake, co-founder of recipe and ingredients delivery service Hello Fresh, a couple of days ago.
Patrick ditched a career in law to pursue his passion to teach people to cook through Hello Fresh two years ago. Now it’s a thriving business which has propelled him onto the public speaking circuit.
Patrick is a fan of the ResponseSource Enquiry Service, he talks of how ResponseSource ‘democratises PR’. Patrick gave me his recipe for how start-up entrepreneurs can use it to raise their profile for the benefit of their business.
There is already a lot of evidence that ResponseSource is not only a great tool for experienced PR professionals but can also be of benefit to owner managers of small businesses and startups who want to do a bit of their own PR. However, what Patrick explained was that to be really valuable to journalists, and therefore get better coverage, you need to be a legitimate expert in a subject. It’s not just about pushing your products and hoping media outlets will mention them. In fact, there’s quite a bit of preparation to do before you even think about putting yourself in front of the media.
To a PR specialist a lot of this is fairly obvious, but to a startup entrepreneur, owner manager or marketing manager of a small business, these tips can make the difference between token media coverage and long-term relationships with the media that build your brand.
Patrick explained that first of all you need to pick a niche to be expert in – preferably one that relates to your business – then supplement your knowledge by reading the best books on the subject.
Step two is to approach the relevant departments of local universities and offer to come along and deliver free guest lectures. This is rarely turned down if the subject matter is relevant. This gives you experience in public speaking (if you can keep university students awake then you can probably excite your average business delegate) and allows you to refine your material. Having spoken at a couple of universities you can then try approaching some relevant businesses to deliver similar presentations, furthering your experience and credibility.
Step three is to then finally seek to make yourself available to the media. This is where ResponseSource comes in, says Patrick. Now you are fully conversant and confident in your subject – and you have the credibility provided by delivering lectures and public speaking – you can respond to enquiries from journalists as a quotable authority on your subject. This will earn you much better coverage than the occasional product mention, and potentially establish yourself with journalists as a commentator that can be tapped again and again, leading to repeated media coverage.
Ad-hoc bits of media coverage will not make a huge difference to your business, but a close relationship with the media where you are seen as a credible industry commentator will support your brand in the long term. And you can do it yourself – if you do it smart.