I love working with Wade Roush. Not only is he a great guy, he’s a smart, serious and intelligent reporter. The only catch is that he is about 3 feet taller than I am, so I strain my neck looking up while talking to him. I may start bringing a step stool.
Today he offers up some great advice about how pitch him. Other reporters have done this in the past, but Wade’s post is among the best I read and actually speaks to issues that are much broader than just him. He echoes much of what we hear from reporters all the time. I recently had conversations with several reporters from all different types of publications who may love the story we’re pitching, but simply don’t have time to do it. These range from those focusing in regional tech to national consumer. Fewer reporters are churning out more material with fewer resources. This leads to them find ways to limit where to focus.
Wade lays out some of his key questions. Below are his questions with my take right after. Over on his blog you can see his own explanations.
Has this company won the backing of reputable investors? This is really about third-party validation. If you’re just someone with an idea that hasn’t yet gone through some kind of business gauntlet, then it’s hard for a journalist to take you seriously yet.
How truly differentiated is this company’s technology? For entrepreneurs this is often the most difficult to answer. From inside your technology looks different than anything else out there, but when you bring something to a reporter who gets pitched by 20 companies that look and sound just like yours, you need to have messaging in place that answers this question very well. You will stumble with this at first, but be willing to look deep and think about it.
Is this company offering a product or service that our audience would care about? I think this is more about the strategy behind your media and influencer relations program. Are you picking the right media audience? Did you create the right “pitch” for that audience? Are the readers of that publication people you truly need to reach?
Does this company have a team of articulate, charismatic founders or executives? One phrase: media training. Get it. Feel you need it? Contact us.
Does this company have a convincing business model? Oh the business model discussion. I cannot tell you how often I go to a pitch event, listen to the entrepreneur go through the whole pitch only to have the first question be: how are you going to make money? It’s become so obvious that people actually laugh when it comes up. It’s easier just to acknowledge and answer it up front. Though, as Wade points out: “I’m increasingly irritated by what I call the Twitter Answer: ‘We’re focused for now on building a service that 200 million people will use, and later we’ll figure out some way to monetize it.’”
Is this company built to flip? Or simply to get the founders “acqhired” at Google, Facebook, or Twitter? Here in Boston I’ve seen frothy coverage of companies that I just don’t fully understand. I look at their business and their technology and think “that’s a not a company, that’s an application.” I’m not the only one, others seem to have the same opinion. But it’s a good thing to think about as an entrepreneur in general. Are we really creating something that can stand alone? One of my favorite examples on the positive side of this question is Runkeeper, which started as an application and has evolved into a platform. Jason Jacobs isn’t about creating a company that is born to flip, he created a company that has much more potential than that.