Reaching the High Bar: What Business Press Want From Their Sources

Placement in business press is the gold standard by which your PR efforts are measured. Publications like Forbes, Fortune, Wall Street Journal and others represent a high bar because of their prestige, influence and broad reach. When our clients get a feature in Bloomberg or New York times, it’s usually framed and hung in the office foyer or otherwise worthy of front and center placement on the home page of the company web site.

However, for most clients — especially smaller start-ups – it seems that business press is all but out of reach for anyone not included on the Fortune 500. And there’s a grain of truth to that. For one, unless your name is Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook or the like, there’s little chance that business press will cover any straight product announcements. Meanwhile, business publications – congruent with the media industry in general – are dealing with shrinking staffs that have little time to address the hundreds of pitches they see in their inboxes on a daily basis.

For many of the same reasons, funding coverage – once eagerly sought by business press reporters – is also diminishing. For the last several years, VCs have invested liberally in the start-up community, and as a result, many funding announcements are often deprioritized or ignored altogether by reporters. And while VCs have only recently started to pull back, reporters now seldom cover announcements less than $25M.

So what are business press reporters actually looking for?

They’re looking to tell a story.
A company and/or product by themselves are not interesting. But when placed in the context of a broader trend or story, stand-alone products have the potential garner attention from even the most scrutinizing tier one reporters. When crafting the announcement, ask yourself, what does this mean for the industry? Customers? Is this part an ongoing or more significant story that is unfolding? Could this be a catalyst for change? The release of a cloud storage platform, for example, might actually capture their attention when put in the context of a story on how niche life science firms are adjusting to both storing significantly more data and adhering to new compliance regulations aimed at protecting it. Viewing your story from the lens of a reporter will give you the ability to pre-emptively address their objections while also crafting a narrative that they’ll actually want to write.

They’re looking for simple explanations.
Business press are catering to a broad audience, with the majority of their readers in the business community. While readership may include some technology experts, most will only have a laymen’s understanding of technology industry concepts. Therefore, don’t assume the reporter knows as much as you do about your subject (chances are they don’t). Provide simple and clear narratives, with minimal use of industry jargon. Queue up an elevator pitch that can easily illustrate what your company does in one to two sentences. Break down explanations – even if the journalist has the press release or you think they’re familiar with the topic (simplified explanations will often make the best quotes.) And during the interview, do provide the reporter real-world examples or scenarios that allow them to “see” what you’re explaining. This could be a description of how a security threat halts operations of critical infrastructure that your solution can remediate, or depiction of video systems for sporting events that generate petabytes of data to be stored and secured by your platform. Bolstering your assertions with these kinds of descriptions will ultimately help reporters understand how your product or service will affect the lives of their readers.

They’re looking to build a relationship.
Business press reporters are bombarded with hundreds of pitches every day – the vast majority of which end up deleted because the PR professionals failed to do their due diligence ahead of time. Most pitches are untargeted and blasted out to hundreds of journalists all at once, with little knowledge about, or relevance to, the reporter’s audience. Instead, take the time to get to know a reporter by regularly reading and commenting on their stories, following them on Twitter and LinkedIN, and connecting at tradeshows and events (that’s where 10Fold shines). This up-front investment will soon pay off, even if a story isn’t generated from every interaction. By keeping up this steady cadence, reporters will eventually trust you enough to come to you for a comment or with a story idea. And those relationships are the ones that will last.

By Stefanie Hoffman 

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