A news story or feature article published by the right media outlet can have a massive impact on your business — good or bad. After all, most reputable publications have far more credibility than does any marketing collateral your company might craft, simply because the press are considered unbiased observers.
Yet, you have no control over the final article. You can do your best in the interview with the journalist, particularly if you prepared for it, but ultimately the journalist writes the story. You can’t affect how your product is referenced, what is said about your direct rivals, or even if your exec’s name is spelled right.
That all said, there are certainly things you can do to improve your odds. Based on my 29 years in tech journalism, here are some thoughts for what you can do after the interview with a reporter.
Let’s start with the easy pieces, first. You want the phone or in-person interview to go well, which presumably means ensuring that you are well-prepared for the issues the reporter is likely to raise.
Reporters absolutely love real thought leaders: smart people who offer surprising and useful insights. But true leadership is quite hard to find. If you make it easy for the media to catch your execs being brilliant, your business may well benefit.
When company representatives give an interview to the press, it usually is in one of two modes: advocate or expert. Advocate, the traditional sales voice, is where the business executive argues all of the advantages of the product or service that the company sells. Expert is where the person is quoted as an expert, wherein the comments are ostensibly neutral.
The most persuasive kind of publicity is media coverage. Free media is more valuable than almost any kind of marketing, except word of mouth, because it lets you tell the world the value of your offerings, and it comes with the validation of a third party (the publication). Nowhere is press coverage more crucial than for a budget-constrained start-up or small business.
And yet, mystifyingly, startups seem to go out of their way to make it as difficult as possible for journalists to contact them.