How To Get Free Press For Your Startup With Original Data

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Startups have a treasure trove of valuable, propriety data regarding some aspect of their given vertical. By Jazmin Hupp (Director of Marketing, Tekserve)

Getting traditional PR coverage is hard! As new startups flood journalists with lame press releases, how do you stand out from the pack? Will Flaherty of SeatGeek taught “Data Driven PR” at General Assembly today.

Startups have a treasure trove of valuable, propriety data regarding some aspect of their given vertical. When packaged in a digestible and usable format to the right journalists, it will get you mentioned. Although it may not be a love story about your company, it will get you more free press. What kind of data do you have?

  • Demographics about your audience
  • Trends in your marketplace
  • Survey data from your fans

What your data can lead to?

  • Print & Radio: Stories were created from data sent to individual writers.
  • TV: Since television is a visual medium, they place the highest value on giving them someone who is immediately available to be on camera. This means you need someone who can talk knowledgeably and is willing to meet a camera crew wherever local news crews are.
  • Infographics: These are produced by SeatGeek and take about 15-20 hours to produce. You’ll notice in their Final Four infographic that they partnered with Seamless to get even more interesting data.

How to pitch data:

  • Create a couple of hypotheses around a topic that your audience might find newsworthy. SeatGeek picks a type of event and location to focus their analysis on based on which news outlets they want to attract. It’s faster to chase existing stories in news (like the Super Bowl) and provide data to earn mentions. SeatGeek has also done well digging up deep data on an original story to get higher quality mentions.
  • Pull the raw numbers into something like Excel and analyze it while keeping an open mind for new findings.
  • Synthesize the trends you’re seeing in the data. What are the changes over time, locations, etc. Write compelling punch bullet points.
  • Create a visual element (graph/infographic) to convey your data in a different and powerful way. (Don’t forget to include your logo & URL on the graphic)
  • Push the pitch out to interested journalists, bloggers, and media members.
  • Find the media members who are writing stories in your locale/vertical/etc. If you know one site that perfectly epitomizes the readership you’re looking for, copy their URL. Then do a Google search for “related:URL.com” to see the sites that are similar to them.
  • Most of the time, their email address will be listed on their stories or website. If not you can use a few tricks to find it.
  • If they work for an organization with a common email structure like first.last@company.com you can use that. You can use Gmail tools like Rapportive to confirm your guess.
  • You can search the journalist’s tweets for their email address using sites like Snap Bird. Just enter the target’s Twitter name and the search term “email”.

How to contextualize your data points:

  • Comparison: How do prices/demand/profits compare to others or past? How do customers in your area compare to other areas?
  • Superlatives: Most expensive/popular thing in X years.
  • Trends: How is prices/profits/demand changing over time.
  • If Statements: If you bought all components individually would it be cheaper than buying them individually? If you had bought this widget it the past, what would it be worth now?
  • Use Google Alerts to track what are popular story topics in your industry.

How to write your pitch:

  • Punchy, description subject line. Use an actual data point that will stand out to a journalist drowning in story pitches. Personalized opening paragraph. Make it clear this isn’t a stock email to hundreds of people. Mention your specific relationship with them whenever possible.
  • Crisp, clear data points. Write in complete sentences (that the journalist can copy) and bold the numbers you’re pitching.
  • Always provide a link. Encourage the journalist to link to your site by providing a landing page that supports the story (hopefully a page that puts readers a click away from a transaction with you).
  • Give them a method to follow up. Make yourself available to provide more data or provide a quote. Will uses a Google voice number that forwards to his cell phone (which I thought would be great for scaling later on, if you want to have different folks answer at different times).

Check it out:

  • OkCupid (a dating site) pulled aggregated data on their users to create buzz-worthy blog posts and earn press mentions in the New York Times.
  • Yipit (a daily deal aggregator) has become the go-to source on daily deal industry metrics. They produce detailed data reports that they sell to the other daily deal sites and the financial community.

This post was originally posted at Jazmin Hupp's blog.

About the guest blogger: Jazmin Hupp is the Director of Marketing at Tekserve, the independent Apple computer store in New York City. She volunteers for Women 2.0 in San Francisco and Founder Labs in New York City. Jazmin holds a Bachelors of Science in Management Information Systems. Her passions include travel, tea, and ZUMBA. Follow her on Twitter at @jazminhupp.