Targeted public and media relations: tips and experiences

Published on 14.12.2021 | Translations available in: German

Targeted public and media relations: tips and experiences

Successful media relations revolve around the question of how you manage to get into the media and achieve reach: So how do you manage to get media professionals interested in your startup, what you do, your idea and your solution? Based on the launch of Awina, the first Swiss financing solution for daycare places, we share our experience.

If you are founding a startup or have been building one for a few months, sooner or later – better sooner than later – you will think about how to attract the attention of your target group and become known to the public. An essential part of a company's communication is targeted public and media relations. Ideally, it is carried out in parallel with other communication and marketing measures, for example by using the company's own channels such as social media, newsletters, and so on.

Media work rises and falls with an authentic story

A good and authentic story about a new and innovative solution has the best chance of being picked up by the media. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But what makes a story "good" from a media professional's point of view? For your media relations to be successful, your story should fulfill as many of the following points as possible:

  • Include news.
  • Be relevant to the public (or the target audience of the media).
  • Show what the problem is and how it will be solved.
  • Make the added value of the product or service quickly and clearly apparent.

A question of timing

In addition to the story itself, timing also plays an important role. If there is not too much else going on in the political and public agenda at the moment, there is a greater chance that you will get attention with your issue. Therefore, avoid that your launch dates collide with major events like the US elections, national votes or events like the WEF.

We also recommend avoiding school vacations and public holidays. The editorial offices are often understaffed during these times and journalists are either unavailable or more difficult to reach. Unfortunately though, even the best planning cannot completely rule out this risk. Something can always happen on short notice that attracts the focus of the media. In that case, keep calm, improvise, and make the best of it.

Helpful information for media professionals

Once the story and the timing of your launch are set, it's time for the actual media work. This begins with solid preparation. This includes:

  • Prepare short but in-depth documents about the startup or project for media professionals.
  • Write internal Q&As for queries.

You also need to decide how you want to communicate your launch to the outside world. There are several ways to do this. We generally recommend to:

  • Write a media release.
  • Distribute the media release not only through your own channels but others as well. Mailing tools with large media distributors such as the PPS Press Service can support you.
  • In addition, it may be worthwhile to hold a roundtable. This gives the media representatives the opportunity to get the information directly from you and to ask further (also critical) questions.

The following also applies to implementation: the more lead time, the better There are also a few things to keep in mind when implementing media relations around the launch. The biggest danger? Underestimating how much time you need for it. Therefore, start early enough – at least one or better yet two months before the launch date is a good idea.

Also consider the dynamics of a newsroom when planning:

  • Choose the date and time for sending out the media release and the possible roundtable in a smart way. Keep the usual daily structure and deadlines of the journalists in mind.
  • Contact the media network early enough. Rely on media professionals who cover the topic area and know it well.
  • Create a pitch that succinctly conveys what is at stake.
  • Send out the media invitation to the Roundtable a week in advance.
  • Follow up again in the days before the roundtable, ideally on the phone.
  • Don't forget: Journalists are often working under time pressure and may only decide in the last few minutes whether to participate in an online event. Short-notice registrations are common.
  • Conduct the roundtable with a content-rich presentation and allow plenty of time for questions.
  • Send out the press release during or after the roundtable.

After the launch is before the launch

It's not just the preparation that counts, but also the follow-up. Make sure you have the media documents ready and send them to all media representatives who took part in the roundtable or who approach you after the media release has been sent out. Continue to talk to journalists and discuss the hot topics related to your own issue or cause.

Investing in personal relationships pays off

Long-standing contacts also make a big difference in public and media relations. Invest in building and maintaining relationships with media professionals and stakeholders that are relevant to you (e.g. communities, parties, associations, potential partners). Startups in particular do not always have such trusted contacts. In this case, it makes sense to build them up in a targeted way and with a lot of patience or, alternatively, to look for a partner who brings these relationships along and can actively support you in your media work.

Last but not least: Going public means making yourself vulnerable. Anyone who broadcasts must also be able to take criticism. And must be able to withstand it. That's why it pays to identify potential targets in advance, to define answers to critical questions, and to establish a clear stance. This creates security. In the case of very negative comments, especially on social media, we recommend deciding on a case-by-case basis whether a response is appropriate.

If no conversation is sought by the other party, it is usually not worth reacting. Because one thing is clear: the opponents almost always have the loudest voice. This is where you need endurance more than anything. If, on the other hand, there are legitimate questions or misunderstandings, it is usually worthwhile to clear things up and to repeatedly point out your own framing.

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