Five common mistakes startups make when doing their own PR

There’s a formula to getting media coverage. First you need a good product; second you need to work out a good story (a profile on your business is not necessarily a story) and thirdly you need to approach media in the right way.

Yes journalists are human and they love to hear from business owners, but there are a few key things that startups often get wrong when approaching media for the first time. Here’s Jocelyne Simpson, co-founder of I Do My Own PR’s top five mistakes to avoid.

  1. Not doing your research – Not knowing the title you’re approaching and pitching a totally inappropriate story is obviously a bad move. Think; an organic makeup brand approaching a car publication, or a wine brand (with no news story) getting in touch with a news website. Nothing irritates a journalist more than receiving a story idea that is completely unrelated to what they write about. Not only is it a total waste of their time, it shows that you haven’t taken the time to check out their work, which reflects poorly on your brand.
  1. Mass emailing – Not personalising your pitch and sending mass emails to journalists all at once is another common mistake. Again, journalists will know this is what you’ve done and it doesn’t look good. Take the extra time to address each email to the correct journalist, as well as tailoring the email body to ensure your pitch is relevant to the publication you’re approaching.

  1. Rushing – Spelling or grammar mistakes, no matter how small, are not ok! You’d be amazed by how many media releases and pitch emails contain typos and silly mistakes. Check all your documents, get someone else to check them and then check them again! Every piece of communication you send out is a reflection of your brand, so it’s important to take the time to make them perfect.
  1. Pitching non-stories over and over again – Repeatedly sending the same journalists non-stories, over and over again, won’t win you any friends. Instead, this will get you a reputation for wasting time, and you don’t need me to tell you that’s not a good thing. The end result is journalists will simply press delete when they see an email in their inbox from your business. To avoid this, make sure to only send media emails as and when your brand has a real story to tell.
  1. Pestering media contacts – There’s a fine line between following a journalist up, and annoying them. An email following up on a pitch from a few days prior? All good. Four emails and five phone calls to do the same thing? Definitely not good.

Jocelyne Simpson has 20 years of PR experience advising and running PR accounts for some of the world’s most loved brands like Coca-Cola, American Express, LEGO as well as countless startups and small businesses.

 She is co-founder of I Do My Own PR, an online tool that enables small businesses to do their own PR. She is also co-founder of PR agency, Good Citizens.