Remember our “Ask the Expert” session with Heather Delaney, the Founder & Managing Director of Gallium Ventures, a full PR/marketing consultancy? Did you submit a question? Yes? Great news! Today we have some expert insights for you as Heather shares her answers to questions from our community about all things PR and communications!
As a reminder: Heather has worked with large companies and launched technology startups on a global scale, having built them up to recognizable household names. This is done across product development, company strategy, funding, PR/marketing, and even exit support. She is an advocate for promoting women in tech and has personally overcome challenges of moving countries and building a business in both the US and UK.
Want to learn about PR in the femtech world? Read on for a masterclass! 🙂
Hi Heather, as a company in its infancy gaining traction and demonstrating proof of concept, is it disingenuous to refer and talk about yourselves as an established brand when approaching journalists/press?
It’s best to always stay honest when approaching journalists and the wider media. Often founders assume that being a startup or even early stage concept means media will have no interest in what it is they are doing, which is simply untrue. There are journalists who have a keen interest in the startup scene and are thrilled to find interesting founders and companies that are in their infancy. Should a company simply be at concept stage, the founder needs to be aware that a business that early has limited likelihood in becoming a story just yet as there is nothing concrete to show and tell readers. That said, founders should consider whether they would even want their concept being published before they had even started the development and production, or is it better to wait when you have something to show off and drive downloads/sales/investment.
You mention your experience in crowdfunding. Which platforms are best for a femtech product? And what are your top 3 tips, if I want to run a crowdfunding campaign?
Sadly that isn’t a simple one-word answer as crowdfunding is an ever changing world, and the final decision will also be dependant on equity vs non-equity campaigns. Any company looking to launch a product via crowdfunding needs to carefully research the past 6-12 months on each platform to see where similar products have successfully launched (as this will tell you which audience is more engaged). The typical femtech product will look towards non-equity, which means the two big players are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. For those looking to launch onto crowdfunding I am more than happy to take a quick look at what the product is and give recommendations.
What should my press section on my website look like?
It’s always best to put yourself in the shoes of the journalist and consider what they need to write an article. This means it’s best to have high resolutions images (whether that be app screenshots, product or lifestyle shots), logos of the company and/or product, videos or gifs (should it be necessary to show off the product), press releases, and finally bios and headshots of any key members of the team to give a bit of insight on background and experience. If all of this is available for a journalist to grab and use in drafting an article then you will help prevent them losing time hunting around the internet for it.
When should I first approach journalists and how? When should I hire an agency and what can I do by myself?
Especially in the early stages. You should approach journalists when you have something interesting to say such as a launch, investment announcement, in-depth data, or even an exciting exit. If a product is older and hasn’t been updated in sometime then it’s not as newsworthy as that shiny new product hitting the market now will take priority over old news
It’s good to give journalists the news under embargo (giving them notice ahead of a launch and the date time which it can go live) as this not only gives you more time to pitch to the media, but means it isn’t a mad scramble last minute trying to convince people to write about something when it’s already live. This is helpful in the early stages of a company as often media need a bit more time to write up a story about a small company as larger companies can release news which will take priority.
When looking at an agency you need to first consider: Can I do this on my own or am I stretching myself too thin? What is my budget? What territories do I want help with? What is the purpose of PR (ie are you driving sales, downloads, brand awareness, etc)? I will often work with startups where our team take on all of PR and marketing as they desperately need the help, while other time it’s simply training the company in-house on how they can support themselves successfully (almost mentoring). You need to carefully decide what level of agency support you need, as the variety is endless.
How does a company decide on the best journalists to approach for a launch?
Research is key! Although the research stage can take quite a bit of time, it’s worth understanding who is interested in your product or area of business and approaching them. For example, it’s tempting to contact everyone at Mashable about an upcoming launch but the reality is each journalist has almost a swim lane they stay within, therefore if you send someone who specialises in fintech a femtech product you will only be annoying them with what they will see as spam.
What can a PR agency actually help me with? Not all PR agencies are equal, and many will specialise in niche areas such as sports PR, music PR, consumer tech PR, B2B, etc. Which means research is needed on not just what they can do for you but their focus.
Many traditional PR agencies will help with contacting specific journalists for inclusion in articles, drafting content such as press releases and blogs, or even creative campaigns. The key with deciding on an agency shouldn’t solely be reliant on the exciting logos they throw at you of past clients, but who YOUR team has worked on and their experience as they are the ones who will work day-to-day with you and should know your product inside and out.
What are some common mistakes you see startups make when dealing with the press? There are two common mistakes many startups make when reaching out to press.
The first: Contacting any journalist email or phone number they can find on the internet. The problem with this is the startup could be approaching about an exciting new femtech launch only for that journalist to actually write about automotive, in which case you will be blocked or sent an angry response about wasting time.
The second: once a startup has the contact details for a journalist they send a long winded email with paragraphs of information explaining how the company was founded, why and looking to the future. Many journalists receive hundreds of emails a day and simply don’t have the time to take ten minutes out of their day to simply figure out what the announcement is amongst the history lesson.
The best thing a startup can do when looking at conducting their own PR is research who has written about your area recently and keep your communication short and sweet.
Thank you for doing this Heather! My question: I don’t have much experience giving interviews and worry I might say the wrong thing, but now as a founder I’m getting more and more interview requests. Do you have some advice for me?
Interviews are always a nerve wracking experience, so first things first: you are not alone in being nervous! One suggestion for interviews is to have short key points written out in advance which you want to get across. This might be interesting facts and stats of the industry to prove your business is doing something right, short and sweet news bites which would be great as TV clips or quotes or even more importantly the call to action for why you are there (ie the product is available now for only $100 on our website gallium ventures.com). Another thing to remember is it’s tempting to future gaze, and talk about the potential of the company or products in 5+ years, which will therefore detract from the real reason you are there and overtake your actual news.
At the end of the day though, treat others the way you want to be treated. If a journalist has little time then be short, to the point and friendly.