Young Entrepreneur Council Q&A: Pitching the Press

Question: How do I pitch the press to get my business featured?

– Samantha Baker, Mississippi

The following answers have been provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council. Founded by Scott Gerber, the Young Entrepreneur Council is an advocacy group comprised of many of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs and thought leaders. The mission of the Council is to help young people overcome the epidemics of youth unemployment and underemployment by teaching them how to become entrepreneurs.

Sell your uniqueness.

“To get the press you have to completely rethink how you present your business. Ask yourself: ‘How is my service different from others?’ If it’s not, then figure out a way to differentiate yourself from your competition. If you are still drawing blanks think of creative ways to pull off PR stunts, research what’s made waves in the press in the past, and mimic what they’ve done.”

– Matt Wilson (@mattwilsontv), co-founder of

Make it about you, not your company.

“In our experience, getting press is more about creating a story about the people than it is coverage of a product or service (unless it is inherently a story unto itself, which we have generally not had the luxury of). The human element, the entrepreneurial element, the story of how you got there — that is interesting reading and attractive to reporters.”

– Michael Mothner (@wpromote), founder of Wpromote

Go to where the reporters are.

“Find news sources specific to your industry/space and establish a relationship. Comment on blogs, write to editors saying how you liked their piece in the newspaper, and show that you actually took the time to review the content they cover before you send over your press release. As a general rule, people don’t like to do work so make sure you write your press release in the third person and make it interesting! The reporter should have all the information they need in the email/mailer without having to click links or read up on other sources online. Give it to them all at one time.”

– Lucas Sommer (@audimated), founder of

Build relationships.

“Press people who have met me often end up contacting me for interviews or will at least reply when I send messages.”

– Elizabeth Grace Saunders (@reallifee), founder of Real Life E

Sell your uniqueness.

“Every company has something unique about it — you just have to know how to package it for the press. Are you a single mom? Are you from a small town? Promote yourself as a ‘single mom from a small town makes good’ story. Is your company the first company to ever do X in California? Talk about it! It doesn’t matter if it’s not your company itself that initially gets the attention of the press. Once the microphone is in your face you can talk about whatever you want — including your company’s new growth strategy.”

– Windsor Hanger (@windsorhanger), co-founder of Her Campus Media

Tell a story.

“Nobody cares about your products or its features. Ask yourself, ‘So what?’ Your new product holds 50GB of music? So what? Your tires never run out of air? So what? Craft a story that features your product and you’re far more likely to get great press.”

– Ramit Sethi (@ramit), founder of

Use trusted PR tools.

“Develop relationships with media types on Twitter, join HARO [Help a Reporter Out] and be sure to stay relevant. Also if you want to isolate the part of your business that is interesting enough to get press just figure out what part is the most controversial, then ham it up a little and go from there.”

– Maren Kate (@marenkate), founder of

Think stories — not pitches.

“The media is in the business of emotional appeal. Thus, always think in terms of stories. The media rarely wants to hear about products or services unless they are utterly state of the art. On the other hand, they do want something people can connect with on an emotional level. Ask yourself, what story does our [product, service, company] tell?”

– Kent Healy (@kent_healy), author of Learn, Earn and Don’t Get Burned

Network! Network! Network!

“Network as much as possible so that you have contacts all over the place. Then send personal emails to people at press outlets — not mass emails. Presumably if you are working on your start-up, you think it is pretty interesting for some reason, so it is just a matter of conveying your passion and what you find so unbelievably exciting about what you’re doing to others!”

– Stephanie Kaplan (@stephaniekaplan), co-founder of Her Campus Media

Get in touch with the right people.

“Do your research: find the contact names of the people who cover your industry. Build a target list that includes the smallest blogs and work your way up to the larger publications.”

– David Rusenko (@drusenko), founder of