There is no “silver bullet,’ but these tips and hard work can generate the results you need.

On August 20, Betty Wong, founder of Stage2Startups, hosted an online discussion for the Stage2Startups community with 5 professional communications experts – Charlotte Tomic of Tomic Communications; Nancie Steinberg,an integrated communications “pitch specialist; John Mallen of John Mallen PR; Rajiv Jadhav of R Square Media; and, Sam Mattingly of SMC Communications – to discuss how to break through the promotional clutter to get recognition for you, your company or your cause. (Special thanks to Alex Ngo and Daniela Viola for their help on social media and as co-hosts!) Here are the tips that they shared:

Stage2Startups Online Discussion

Create a story that centers on your mission. This is the “age of storytelling,” states Sam.  “But your stories need to be relevant. Focus on developing  stories about yourself and/or your organization that relate to today’s current events.” For example, tell a story about how your company is operating during the COVID crisis that is interesting or different.   

Identify your point of difference. This is your “unique selling proposition”, notes Charlotte.  Then understand the goal(s) of the specific communication vehicle you want to contact and determine how you and your brand or cause relates to that media vehicle’s goals. For example, find an editor or news outlet that regularly focuses on companies similar to yours and pitch a story about what is new for that category.

Make sure your press release is “newsworthy “, Rajiv says “If what you have is not newsworthy, then you need to develop a story that is interesting. ” Your pitch needs to be “engaging and relevant news”for the outlet you are contacting, says both Charlotte and Nancie. Sam says “there needs to be a first mover action, or how what you are doing enhances something else or some great funding or investment story” for the journalist to be interested.

Not every communications vehicle or social media outlet is right for every brand. Sam spoke about the different audiences for corporate “holding company” brands vs. individual brands. You need to focus on the media “in your periscope,” suggests John, rather than on anyone and everyone.  But cross-over to different audiences and mediums is also happening. Rajiv gave an example of Nike reaching out to individual trainers on Instagram to get support.

Structure your content for the particular platform. Not every social media platform should get the same treatment, notes Rajiv. For example, Pinterest is image-based and appeals to a female demographic while Reddit is quite the opposite. Most importantly, once you decide on the relevance of the media outlet, you have to “follow” and make friends with the writer or journalist. “It really helps to become  a reliable source,”says Betty.

John suggests that there should be two “press releases now – one for traditional media editors and one that is “crafted for digital media to reach audiences directly.” Nancie gives credit to the multimedia news release, with hyperlinks to outside media, examples or videos.  

Treat your outreach to the media as an on-going dialogue. This is especially true for social media. Sam suggested ”quick soundbites” with the thought that you have to “treat  social media like you treat your friends…Stay in touch often and have something interesting to share.” Rajiv followed with “employ key words, hashtags, and tagging. Apparently readers and followers want consistency and they have standards.”

After listening to these experts, who have over 100 combined years of experience,  I resolved to follow-up with my own reporters. T hear the full discussion, go to

If you would like to speak with any of the pros, here’s how you can contact them:

Charlotte Tomic –

John Mallen-

Nancie Steinberg –

Rajiv Jadhav-

(c) 2020 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong

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