One of the toughest challenges for a startup can be trying to secure media coverage, often before a product launch or a customer.  A recent article in Mashable offers some good advice for when and when not to seek media coverage.  The main point is that every credible news outlet will be looking for a news peg to make the story timely.

You should send a request for coverage when you:

  • Can Offer Expertise. Most entrepreneurs are experts at something, and they have more on-the-ground experience than some industry pundits.  Even though a news story might not directly concern your company, if you are an expert and you comment on it, you’ll still likely get a mention as a knowledgeable source.
  • Make a Profit. Many startups receive investments but far fewer actually turn a profit, which really spells success in the eyes of the media.  Don’t be afraid to brag about it to the world.
  • Launch. When you do, the media gets a fun new startup to talk about, often taking the novelty or underdog perspective.

Conversely, you should not seek media coverage when you:

  • 1) Get covered by other media. Believe it or not, telling other editors that a big name media outlet wrote about your startup is like rubbing mud in their faces.
  • 2) Win a competition. The bottom line is that winning a startup competition is a cool but relatively arbitrary achievement in the eyes of the press.
  • 3) Have a promotion. Credible media want to remain as objective as possible and will not advertise for you.

The article concludes by suggesting that it’s important to strike a balance between too few and too many media requests.  Exposure is great, but too many news releases will just lead to your emails going directly to the spam folder.