How To Get Stellar Media Coverage For Your Startup In Our Post-COVID-19 Climate

Article By Olga Orda,

Managing Partner at Silicon Matter, NYC based public relations firm.

The biggest, boldest version of you is the story the media wants today.

Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, did a survey in 2019 of more than 33,000 respondents globally. The takeaway? People look to their bosses more than ever to take the lead on change rather than wait for the government to impose it. Yes, from hot topics like equal pay, prejudice and discrimination, training for the jobs of tomorrow, the public trusts and wants CEOs (that’s you!) to take a stand and create positive change.

This is more true now in the COVID-19 climate we live in today than ever before. As CEOs, we have the power to re-imagine the world we want to live in once we defeat this pandemic. As women, we are infinitely powerful and creative by our nature. Let’s use that fire inside of us to reimagine the world we live in. The one we left behind was still too inequitable, too damaging to our health and earth and just sometimes straight up not working for us (e.g. hello, equal pay and affordable health care). 

What does this have to do with getting coverage for your startup? A lot. Your customers, your employees, your investors and your community care more than ever about your position and your actions on the most critical issues of the day. Do that in the form of writing an Op-Ed or byline. Not about what your company sells but what your brand stands for at a deeper level. Is it empowerment? Equality? Loving how you look, regardless of size or shape? Self-care without apologies?

As founders and CEOs, your provocative opinions are the media product. What do you want to stand for? Remember, when it comes to the media, it’s more dangerous not to take a bold position because your competitors likely will.

Take for example Heidi Zak, the CEO of Third Love, who went head to head with Ed Razek, the CEO of one of the most iconic American lingerie brands in history: Victoria’s Secret. When Razek made some seriously demeaning comments about what women should look like, she wrote a fierce Op-Ed-like ad in the New York Times. Her core message was not only powerful but also super timely with the cultural climate: “It’s time to stop telling women what makes them sexy — let us decide.”

She combined her letter with some seriously well-orchestrated social media posts to further bolster her message. Today, thanks to CEOs like Zak, inclusivity isn’t just a “niche”, it’s become a real life concept more deeply integrated into the fashion world than ever before.

Some founders treat public relations as another marketing exercise. It’s not. At its highest level, public relations is about shaping public opinion and contributing a compelling storyline to existing narratives at play.

A publicist’s mind is much like a trader’s desk. Similar to the multiple screens traders have on their desk to monitor for opportunities and multiple, ultra time-sensitive trends, media makers like us need to have a feel of when to insert a story — namely, our client’s compelling story— into the existing media cycle at the right time and with the right “characters” (a.k.a. the investors, customers and community affected by your product or service). 

Think deeply and boldly about what you want to stand for. Then, combine that with your “news hook”. What larger cultural, political and social trends do your products or services fall into? What major news events bring to light just how much your company is needed today?

Think about the fire inside you that compelled you to start your company and combine that with your unique voice and news hook. Do that and you’re bound to get the media’s attention. 

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