Guardian business journalist Jon Card offers his advice on how businesses in the North West can gain press attention
One of the things I’ve always admired about Manchester is the ability of its inhabitants to tell their city’s story. To be fair, in recent times, the city has had more than its fair share of exciting characters. The success of Manchester’s music scenes and football teams are clearly a major draw for many bright young people that head to the city for study and work. This influx of young talent has been a boon to for Manchester’s rapidly growing tech and start-up businesses, found in hubs such as XYZ, The Landing in Media City and Accelerate Places.
But Manchester cannot afford to bask in the glory of past achievements. A new chapter needs to be written for the 21st century and, if entrepreneurs want to be part of the story, they need to tell their own tales.
As a journalist, I hear many great stories and, over the years, I’ve come to realise that the best business stories have several things in common. So, here are some tips to make sure the journalists in London, Manchester and elsewhere write up your story.
Tell us a story
Journalists are storytellers. So when you meet a business journalist, they will be wondering what your story is, and media savvy entrepreneurs understand this. The first story you must master is how and why you came to be in business. Was there a lightbulb moment, did you spot a gap in the market, or experiences a Eureka moment? Business journalists want to know how you became an entrepreneur – you must be able to tell us.
Tell us how you’re going to change the world
One of the first questions I ask business owners is: ‘tell me about your business’. Hopefully, you’re aiming to make things better? So, before we dig into the details of your technology, tell me what you’re trying to change. What problem are you actually trying to solve? Does it make something cheaper, safer or more convenient? Does it give consumers more choice? These are questions you should have plain English answers to.
Get a photoshoot
Every story needs a picture and you would be surprised how many stories get culled due to a lack of pictures. The national press has a restricted budget for photography and tends to rely on pictures sent in. But don’t just do a selfie with your phone – get a snapper with experience of working in media. High resolution, professional and illustrative pictures are a must for media-facing businesses.
Emphasize your credentials
Journalists get a lot of interview requests, which we sift through to find the gems. Give yourself a head start by preparing a decent bio that shows off your credentials, including things like your track record, investor backing and the status of your intellectual property. Also, do a sweep of your online pages – get your LinkedIn profile up to date!
Be prepared to substantiate what you say
Journalists might not be as cynical as you think but, if you want to make a big claim, we’ll need verification – often from a third party. A lot of entrepreneurs claim to be unique, or the first, or that there’s ‘nothing else like us on the market’. Believe me, I want to write an exciting story, but your word is not enough. Backing from authoritative sources such as universities, government agencies, research groups or even a respected public figure can go a long way to persuading journalists that you’re bona fide.
Jon Card has worked as a journalist for 15 years and writes regularly for The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and The Times about entrepreneurs and technology. He will be speaking in Manchester at What tech companies and start-ups need to know about the media on March 8, 2018. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/what-tech-companies-and-start-ups-need-to-know-about-the-media-manchester-tickets-42122926808