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Announcing Funding in the Press

Nic Forster

Head of PR & Communications @ Forward Partners

The successful closure of a funding round is often an extremely exciting and newsworthy juncture at which to approach press. It’s an excellent opportunity to physically demonstrate the traction and successes that you’re enjoying. If you’ve raised a pre-Seed round, it’s a great time to introduce your business with real impact and if later stage, it represents a chance to reintroduce your business, re-engage with key media and reignite interest and understanding.

However, there are some key things to bear in mind and ways in which you can capitalise on the moment to achieve more when it comes to press coverage and to make coverage work harder for you and your business.

Discuss with investors

As a matter of courtesy, it’s advisable to discuss announcement plans with your investors and get their take. Your investors will no doubt have invaluable insights into the optimum time to announce, both in terms of the effect on your individual business and with a view to the wider market. 

Key information to include

When pitching a fundraising story, the following information will be expected from a journalists’s POV:

  • Round size raised

  • Investors in the round

  • Leading investor in the round

  • What the investment will help you facilitate as a business

It’s also often useful to include a quote from the founder and also a quote from the lead investor in the round.

Media map

Once you have an announcement release finalised, it’s key to build a media list with the key journalists and their publications who you will approach. It’s often best to split this by sector e.g tech onlines, startup onlines, nationals etc. It is also good practice to have your media list tiered so that you know which titles to prioritise in terms of your target audience.

Build space into your media list for feedback so that when following up with journalists you can keep notes on their responses/ feedback. This makes it much easier to keep track of progress across the board.

The approach

Paste your announcement release into an email (this avoids any formating/ programme clashes).

If you’re offering a story exclusively (best saved for your top target publication)* be sure to call that out in either the subject line or your introductory note - it’s important that a journalist knows that they are being given first refusal.

The next priority is to establish whether your top journalist/ publication wants the exclusive. If they do then establish a publishing date/ time and make plans to follow up with wider media after the exclusive goes live. If they do not want the exclusive, move on to your next preferred title and start the pitch over.

Feel free to follow up once via email or with a quick phone call if you initially receive no response.

*See below for more on exclusives

Understanding Exclusives

A fundamental nuance to understand when pitching any story, including fundraising announcements, is the ‘media exclusive’ and the importance of exclusives to journalists. Often journalists put huge emphasis on publishing news as an exclusive, which essentially means first (giving their readers sight of a story before any competitor).

There are a couple of things to bear in mind here:

  1. Exclusive doesn’t mean ‘exclusively’ - i.e you can generally still go to media 'far & wide' once the story has been published by the outlet with whom you’ve arranged the exclusive. However, generally the longer from the initial announcement you get, the less newsworthy it becomes; the trick here is to move fast when the first piece goes live or is in print.

  2. When deciding on who should lead with your exclusive news story, think about which journalist or publication resonates most strongly with your target audience - go after them first and if they aren’t keen, know who you’ll go to next (in order of priority).

  3. Never promise an exclusive and then approach another publication with the story before the exclusive story has been released - it is considered extremely bad form and generally unforgivable in a journalist’s eyes! Doing so is likely to irreparably damage your relationship with a journalist and/ or publication which can have long lasting negative effects. 

TechCrunch’s Steve O’Hear has this piece of advice:

“Ask yourself which writer and publication you would like to cover your early-stage funding and who would understand what you are doing best. Then, presuming you are the founder, reach out to them early and directly, by passing the use of a PR agency. With a bit of luck and done properly, this could be the beginning of a long term relationship as you grow and scale your startup, and you really don't want to outsource it.”

Timing is everything

Try and coincide your funding announcement with a key ‘moment’ for your business - a time which you really want to seize the consciousness of your target audience. Whilst it’s generally not good practice to delay announcements for too long after the term sheet ink has dried (often stories will leak), it isn’t usually a problem to announce a few weeks after a round has closed. I always advise startups to try and align announcements to key times in their business calendars. For example if you’re launching a new product line, announcing funding to coincide with that launch could give you a sales spike as well as publicity.

Harness Social Media

Be sure to further amplify any online press coverage via social media especially on Twitter and Linkedin.

Tweeting and retweeting stories as and when they go live and posting stories to Linkedin will help to further extend the reach of your funding news, particularly within your valuable network of contacts.  

Further reading

https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-examples-of-good-press-releases-announcing-startup-funding

http://www.ohear.net/how-to-pitch-me-stories/

https://www.getrevue.co/profile/sohear/issues/steve-s-itk-a-billion-dollars-43061

 

Nic Forster

Head of PR & Communications @ Forward Partners

Nic is Head of PR & communications at Forward Partners. Over the course of a 10 year career in communications, he has worked with global brands including Orange, Warner Bros., BBC, and Amazon. Nic also headed up the PR team at one of the UK's fastest growing e-commerce businesses, notonthehighstreet.com. He now leads communication strategy on behalf of Forward Partners whilst also working with our startups, helping them to conceptualise and tell their brand and business stories to both press and the target consumer.

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