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So you just landed a ventrue capital investment and want some media coverage

So You Just Landed a Venture Capital Investment and Want Some Media Coverage

Closing a venture capital (VC) investment is a big deal for any young company.

After all, less than 1 percent of all U.S. companies receive VC money. A VC investment represents market validation. An experienced group of industry veterans has decided that your company holds the promise and potential to make them (and maybe even yourself and a few of your employees) rich. They think you have an innovative idea, and their cash will serve as the catalyst sparking that growth.

Sounds great – and it is. Landing VC money is a huge accomplishment for any company that is able to make it through what is generally an ultra-competitive process.

It’s also a great opportunity to generate some media coverage, which for many young companies, will represent their first introduction to the market and first occasion to share their stories with potential customers, partners, acquirers and other investors.

The only problem? Announcements of VC investments happen all the time, so the media is not lacking in coverage options. To make sure your announcement about obtaining a venture capital investment gets noticed, keep these four integral principles in mind.

Do not withhold the dollar amount: If you’re looking to create media interest at all, I cannot stress enough the importance of including the dollar amount of the investment. This is a very important point for reporters who need some way of assessing the gravity of all the funding announcements they see. Obviously, $50 million will look better in headlines than $5 million, but $1 million looks a lot better than nothing. In my reporter days, when I saw a funding announcement without a dollar amount, it immediately went to the bottom of my queue of potential upcoming stories. Don’t fumble away this valuable opportunity by failing to get approval from your investors to include the dollar amount.

Describe how you’ll use the investment: All reporters expect that you’ll use your recent cash infusion to drive “growth,” but they’ll want more specifics than that. What are your key measures of growth? If it’s customer acquisition, what type of customers are you looking to acquire? If it’s employee headcount, how many are you looking to hire? (BONUS: Including potential jobs numbers in an area can help you get into local media AND aid in your recruiting efforts.) If it’s revenue, by what percentage are you hoping to grow revenue in the next year? Obviously, you don’t want to reveal any secret strategies to competitors, but your investment announcement provides an opening to begin shaping your company’s story and the way it’s publicly perceived. Do that by articulating a clear vision for the future that describes exactly what “growth” means to you.

Make sure executives are available for interviews on the day of the announcement: For the chance to pose questions like those mentioned above – plus plenty more – reporters will be interested in speaking with a top company executive, preferably the CEO. After coordinating key talking points with the CEO, be sure to coordinate schedules. As important as a funding announcement is, it’s not realistic to expect an executive to block off her entire day for interviews. But one or two decent chunks of time on the day of the announcement isn’t too much to ask.

Be sure to include investor and customer quotes: A VC investment serves as an important representation of market validation, and the funding announcement is a chance to shout that validation from the rooftops. A quote from the investor is a must, explaining why the VC firm thinks this company is one to take a risk on, why the market will ultimately choose their technology as a winner and what type of growth potential exists in this particular market niche. For bonus points, include a customer quote explaining (preferably with quantifiable outcomes) exactly how your technology helped them address a significant business problem.

Yes, it can be difficult to gain media coverage for venture capital announcements due to all the stiff competition out there. But it is possible to get journalists’ attention.

Drafting an announcement that follows the key principles above will help your announcement stand out while giving journalists what they want and need – a good, complete story to tell. And the same story that helped you win the investment in the first place.

 

Media Interview Preparation 101

Media Interview Preparation 101

Some executives dedicate ample time and effort to media interview preparation – studying the journalist’s previous coverage, developing carefully considered talking points – while others, not so much.

Guess which ones are typically more pleased with the outcomes of their interviews?

Nonetheless, it’s important to keep the significance of media interviews in perspective. Unlike a new product release gone awry or ethical misconduct by management, a bad interview is unlikely to cripple a company’s future. More likely, an interview gone off-the-rails results in some temporary embarrassment and heartburn for the company’s leadership – obviously something everyone would prefer to avoid. Still, there’s no need for an interview subject to work herself into a nervous state of sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach or stuttering speech.

While no one would suggest that executives need to prepare for a media interview with the time and diligence that they’d devote to a board meeting, for example, media interviews are indeed an important conduit to introducing a young company to potential investors, partners, employees and the market in general.

Confidence is key, and preparation breeds confidence. With that in mind, here are a few key preparation tips beyond the usual “Do your homework!” to turn any interview into a positive showcase for you company and your thought leadership.

Ask questions before the interview: What type of readers/viewers/listeners comprise the media outlet’s audience? Why is the reporter interested in talking to you? How did he/she find out about your company? What topics will the interview cover? Will the reporter share any questions ahead of time? Will you have the opportunity to review the article before it’s published (probably not), or any direct quotes from you that the reporter plans to use (quite possibly)? Don’t let any excitement or nervousness about the interview prevent you from asking a bunch of questions to the reporter – soon, he/she’ll be asking plenty of you.

Research the reporter and media outlet: Check out the reporter’s bio or LinkedIn page, and look for some clues from his/her background to build pre-interview rapport. Maybe the reporter attended the same college as you or has worked at a company with which you have some familiarity. This is great fodder for small talk before the interview begins, which will help to establish a friendly tone at the interview’s outset.

Aside from the reporter’s personal background, study the past few articles he/she’s written. They’ll provide clues for what interests him/her, what angles the reporter likes to take on stories and what types of questions might be asked.

Hammer key messages: I like to think of media interviews as a Venn diagram, featuring two circles – one representing the reporter’s interests and the other representing those of the interview subject. Rarely if ever will these two circles completely overlap. In fact, only about 10 percent of each may overlap, but that 10 percent is where you’ll live during the interview. That’s the space where you’ll be able to discuss your industry and your company’s accomplishments and capabilities without seeming too sales-y or self-promotional.

After you’ve asked the right questions and done your research, it’s time to prepare talking points that hammer home the key messages you’d like to convey in the interview. Make each of these points brief, conversational and punchy. Provide a little supporting evidence or an anecdote and move on to the next one. Don’t be afraid to re-emphasize points you’ve previously made; repetition helps reporters prioritize the importance of the information you’ve covered during the interview.

After the interview: Once the interview is over, breathe a sigh of relief and revel in a job well done — although the work isn’t done quite yet. Follow up with the reporter to see if any additional information or clarification is needed before the piece is published. Once the piece is published, promote it via all channels available to your company – social media, company blog, website, email campaigns and the like.

Does this seem like a lot of work? Sometimes it can be, but the positive is that a strong PR firm will do all the legwork for you – asking important questions of the reporter, researching the reporter and media outlet’s background and crafting talking points. Then it’s just up to the executive to think about and digest the information and proceed with confidence towards exceling in the interview.