How do you stay in the news long after coverage surrounding your startup’s launch has worn off? Developing a presence on social media is a good start. However, gaining media attention is often the only tactic that can lead to new industry opportunities and help you build your company’s credibility.
The challenge is, if you really want to reach a large audience, you’ll need to secure the attention of top media publications. But, getting your story published on these high-traffic websites can be extremely intimidating for a startup, especially if you’re building a global product and you and/or your team is located outside of the United States.
Too often we see startups simply dismiss the idea as impossible. However, over the years of working closely with global startups, we’ve learned it can actually be much easier than most startups think. Especially if you are operating a company outside of the U.S., you are in a unique position to provide fresh insights that both U.S. and global startups can learn from.
This is where contributing guests posts and bylined articles come in. When your startup doesn’t have any big updates to pitch to the media, contributing content is one of the best ways to still stay in the news and establish you and/or your team as thought leaders in your space. There are many key tactics founders can apply to secure guest posts on top websites related to their fields. Below are some of these key tactics your startup can use in order to contribute your stories to major media publications.
1. Do your research
Before you even think about writing, take the time to research the topics areas you can discuss with a fresh perspective. Do you have a strong opinion on a particular topic or can you offer unique insights into a specific way of doing things? Top-tier publications are after original, controversial, and even disruptive ideas. It’s critical to spend some time thinking about what you can offer before you even begin writing.
If your company is in a saturated market and your areas of expertise are often covered in the news, think about how you can not only provide a fresh perspective but also interesting, new data that has never been seen before. You may need to perform your own lengthy research and commission surveys to collect this data. However, your chances of getting your content published will be much greater if you’re trying to get noticed in a saturated field.
A good example is Buffer, a useful app in the incredibly saturated world of social media tools. Guest blogging has been a key part of their strategy to stay in the news and, eventually, having their blog completely syndicated on top media outlets. You can read many of the posts by Buffer’s Head of Marketing, on websites such as:
- The Next Web
2. Create your list
Who do you want to reach with your words? To increase your chances of successfully securing a guest post on a top-tier publication, not only should you research topics that would be a good fit for the publication, but you should also consider if your target audience actually reads the publication where you want to submit content.
Create a list of these publications, then go through each one and determine whether or not they accept guest posts. If you can’t find a page that states clearly the publication’s guidelines for submitting a post, use the website’s search tool to see if you can find any guest posts published on the site.
3. Become an expert in your field
Many of the top-tier publications, such as Entrepreneur and Forbes, require you to fill out an application form to become a contributor and these forms often ask for writing samples. If you don’t have any to provide, or if you’re new to the world of guest posting, it’s best to start small and build up a collection of writing samples before attempting to land a spot in a bigger publication.
No matter what your company sells or makes, you are bound to come across smaller industry publications that will gladly accept your guest post. There are plenty of great resources to find these publications as well. Here are a few to help you get started:
Alternatively, starting a blog under your own name (outside of your company blog) is another good alternative to build up a collection of writing samples. Medium is one of the best places to do this. Try to write or contribute 3-5 articles to build up writing samples under your name before you begin reaching out to larger, national publications. Not only will this show them your industry expertise but it will also show them you’re interested in writing and developing a long-term relationship with the publication – and not just seeking your 15 minutes of fame.
4. Be authentic
Editors can spot authenticity vs. self-promotion from a mile away. If you’re overly promotional in your article, they will call you out on it and it might even hurt your chances of getting a response from them again in the future. Here’s a response one startup received from an editor at a top technology publication calling them out for exactly this.
Instead, you should always try to be as authentic as possible and try to provide real value for the publication’s readers. Most of the time, it’s highly actionable advice that the top-tier publications are after. Think about the hurdles and successes you’ve experienced launching a new company and what advice you could provide others who might be doing the same.
5. Pitching your story
Instead of filling out a contributor form and waiting around for an answer, you can also write your piece and pitch it directly to the editor(s) of the publications where you’d like to be featured. These editors receive dozens, and even hundreds, of pitches every day and sometimes they just don’t have the time to respond to a story idea that is not ready to go yet.
You’re much more likely to get a response if you write an article with a specific publication in mind and pitch the complete article to them as an exclusive (meaning the article has not yet been published elsewhere). Paste the complete article in an email to the editor and write a few sentences summarizing who are you, what the article is about, and including your bio and photo. This way, you’re providing the editor with everything they need to say “yes” and get your article up right away without a lot of back-and-forths.
In conclusion, contributing your expertise in the form of guest posts to popular publications in your industry is one of the best ways to get (and stay) in the news, even when your company doesn’t have any big news to share.
Do you have any other tips for pitching or becoming a contributor to top publications?
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