Raising your first seed round or a Series A is a big step for any tech startup. By the time you’re ready to close a funding round, you’ve found the right group of investors, advisors and potential new board members, and you’re ready to roll out the good word to the masses in a funding announcement.
Not so fast.
Before you share the news, your internal marketing team must have the right outreach strategy in place. After all, this is one of the most important, and most attractive, announcements you’ll make as an early-stage startup. It’s a sign to your partners, employees, customers and competitors that your company is gaining momentum, and that you’re showing real traction in the market.
Here are a few guidelines for making sure your message is amplified in the right way:
Build the press release with intent.
More and more, media contacts are happy to cover investment news as a standalone funding announcement. Meaning, there’s no need from the media’s perspective to pair the news with other company milestones like new customers or new hires (in fact, you should announce those separately). But, that doesn’t mean that a funding announcement isn’t a good place to infuse some of your most important key messages. If you’re going to get press coverage, you might as well get more “bang” for your “PR buck.”
Here’s the “need to know” info:
- How much was raised?
- What stage of funding is this?
- How much has been raised for this company to date?
- Who participated in the round?
- Who led the round?
- Who has invested in this company previously?
- What are the funds being used for?
- Will you be hiring? (this one’s especially important for local contacts)
- Why is this important/what does it mean for the industry at large?
Outside of the basics, look to include meaningful quotes. A quote from the CEO/founder is a must, along with a few choice words from your lead investor. If possible, I always like to include a quote from a customer. This gives your product/service market validation, without the release ending up sounding like a sales pitch. Plus, it’s a good time to show off a big-name customer, if you have one.
Paying for a release to be distributed on a PR wire service (think Business Wire or PRWeb) will index the release and give your company legitimate search results in Google, providing an historical timeline of company announcements (which looks great to potential investors). But, wire services certainly aren’t necessary when it comes to garnering media coverage. Since journalists don’t rely on wires for stories, a well-written, well-targeted pitch will get you further than a newswire ever will. At the end of the day, it all comes down to budget. If you have $500 – $1,000 to spend, a newswire posting might be a good use of your PR budget. Your choice.
Establish a timeline.
Ask any tech PR rep and they’ll tell you that lead time is the key to funding announcement success. Plan on pre-pitching your news under embargo at least 48 hours before the official announcement. This will allow press contacts enough time to host interviews with company executives and write their story.
I could write an entire post on how to pitch under embargo, but for the sake of time, I’ll just share my top tips:
- There are outlets that do not honor embargos. Pitch them at your own risk.
- Don’t hold an editor to an embargo that she or he hasn’t agreed to. Ask for buy-in before sending the release.
- Include enough key info so that editors bite, but not enough that allows them to write an entire story without requesting the release. Leave out important info like dollars raised and key investors.
The SEC requires US-based companies to file a form D within 15 days of closing the funding round. Once filed, the details of your financing become public, and your announcement timeline goes out the window. Smart reporters, and particularly those interested in funding, monitor these filings for news they might want to cover. So, make sure to align your filing date with your announcement date, or risk losing control of the message.
Reach out to press.
Once your messaging is finalized, it’s time to start building a list of key media contacts that you’re planning to reach out to with the news. You’ll want to develop a unique pitch angle for each vertical, since they’ll all care about slightly different aspects of the announcement. As mentioned earlier, your local news might care more about how many jobs you’re adding to the city, and your target trade publications might care about what kinds of new product innovations this funding will fuel.
Use this list as a starting point:
- There’s no easier “in” than with press that has already covered your company. Keep them “in the know” with all company updates, not just funding news. Develop a good relationship and they’ll be more likely to cover your other, less newsworthy, announcements in the future.
- Local media. Specifically, local business outlets. In Indy, that means the Indianapolis Business Journal, Inside INdiana Business, TechPoint, Xconomy and the like.
- Financial publications. There are specific reporters whose only job is to covering funding. Reach out to the big guys, and don’t forget the little guys, too. VentureBeat (Heartland tech section, if you’re in Indy), Axios, Fortune’s Term Sheet, StrictlyVC and VC News Daily will all want to hear from you, so don’t leave them hanging.
- Trade outlets. While they don’t specifically care about dollars raised, industry trade pubs do care about innovation and advancement in their vertical. For example, if you’re building a marketing SaaS product, reach out to marketing trade publications like MarTech Series, MediaPost and MarTech Today.
- Reactive contacts. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Search previous funding announcements from your partners and competitors, and see who wrote about them. Reach out to those people.
Success beyond media metrics.
Press contacts aren’t the only ones that will care about your funding news. Don’t forget to loop in customers, partners and industry analysts as well. Share via social channels, and ask your supporters to share, as well. Sending out pre-written Tweets and LinkedIn posts to your employees and external network will greatly increase the spread of the news. Beyond social, don’t forget to include the information on your company website, and in your email newsletter. After all, you spent a lot of time raising this money, don’t you want to milk it for all it’s worth?
If it all sounds too daunting, ask for help. Your investors might have PR leads that can help in amplifying the news. And, if you don’t already have a tech PR firm, contact one like BLASTmedia, who is well-versed in this sort of thing.
About the Author
As a director of accounts, Grace is responsible for managing a team of account executives at BLASTmedia. Grace oversees the planning and implementation of creative media relations strategy on both B2B and B2C client accounts.
Grace has a proven track record of delivering impactful and engaging results for a diverse base of clients. She has secured consistent coverage for her marketing technology and SaaS clients in trade publications such as MarketingProfs, CMSWire, Marketing Land and MediaPost, in addition to top tier news media like The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, TechCrunch, Forbes, The TODAY Show, Fox News and Business Insider.