Last week I met with five start-up business owners at a Business Advice cafe at Leeds Trinity University. The same question kept cropping up in each session; how do I get the interest of the press?
It doesn’t matter whether you are at the start of your journey or a good way down the path, this is a question that never goes away and, if you don’t have the insight and expertise of a PR agency or practitioner to hand, neither does the answer get easier to find. Here’s the advice, in blog form, that I gave out during the session.
My life isn’t a story
Except sometimes it is. Every one of those start-up businesses had a life experience which led them to either the idea of their business or to make decisions which led to better, bigger things. And those stories were FASCINATING. They were thought-provoking, tear-jerking and so random it was almost unbelievable.
But not to those people.
To them it was just their life, something that happened. On more than one occasion I had to stop them mid-sentence and explain why the story they’d just told me was so powerful, because they didn’t see it. Too often we don’t link these experiences to our businesses – the decisions we make and the ideas we have are influenced by other factors in our lives.
To go back to the big question above – you are interesting to the press. This is your origins story. Where you’ve come from, the steps you’ve taken, the challenges, dramas, traumas and trials that have shaped you and therefore your business idea or progression are the building blocks of telling your start-up story.
Sharing versus exploiting your story
A word of caution here. Shoehorning your origins story into every post, experience or press story is not a good look. Be selective in how often and where you share your origins story, otherwise it could be viewed as exploiting your trauma to sell your business/services/products. As the public mood shifts towards transparency, authenticity and trust in the people they buy from and give their money to, be wary of relying on their emotions too much for your self-promotion.
Origins stories have power but, well, let’s remember that great power leads to endless Spiderman origins movies and an extremely bored audience. Use your power wisely.
Bandersnatch your story
No business owner’s or entrepreneur’s journey is ever straightforward, there are ups downs, curve balls and unexpected trees blocking the way. Like Netflix’s Bandersnatch, based on the Choose your Own Adventure books, you’ll have different endings, new narratives and stories to tell.
From your origins story through to your epilogue remember that the experiences and challenges you’ve faced, not just your business’ products and services, can be important in securing earned media coverage in your target publications.