There are two sides to a funding announcement. The client side and the agency side. While the client is super excited to receive money to continue scaling the product/service and the venture capital recognition, the agency knows it’s time for all hands on-deck - of course, we’re thrilled for our client as well!
In our team’s experience, all our clients’ funding announcements have been fast-tracked due to the nature of these announcements and the sensitivity of the funding, which could fall through at any moment. So, when a client raises money and wants to make a splash in the news but only has a few days to do so - where do you start? And how do you finish successfully despite the rushed announcement?
Take A Step Back
Before running to the media with the news, working side-by-side and talking through the fine details of the announcement with the client are the most crucial steps to ensure success. If this is the first funding announcement you’ve done with this client, make sure to get all the major and minor details about previous announcements, if the client has raised money before. Understand the client’s feedback on how previous announcements unfolded - were they pleased with the type of stories written, quality of coverage or did they have concerns with the announcement roll-out?
If this is the second, third or fourth funding announcement you’ve worked on with this particular client, having a conversation about how this announcement will be different and stand apart from previous ones is the most important step before your media relations team takes off with the news.
Get Creative With Messaging
The media loves money. Yet, regardless of the amount, the client and agency need to brainstorm original storylines that depict the announcement as more than just a VC investing in a start-up. VC funding is covered every day in all the major business and technology publications hence the headlines, and furthermore the final stories, need to be particularly intriguing for people to read the full article and become interested in the product/service.
This is a time to engage with reporters about big news, but it’s also a time to work with the media on engineering a story that’s different than previous stories and competitor coverage. Internal and marketing communications including blogs need to also remain fairly consistent with the storylines the agency is pitching. Being align on internal and external messaging efforts will reinforce the brand and marketing strategies, and will set a good precedent for future announcements.
Organization Is Key
While the agency is quickly working to secure interviews ahead of the announcement and the client is about to pop with excitement about the good news, keeping everyone on the same page in terms of timing of the press release (Tip: West Coasters consider the time difference when pitching East Coast media), sending internal/external emails and scheduling live landing pages need to be coordinated in advance of launch day.
Before the client asks, keep a running list of media that have expressed interest in the announcement, those who are reviewing the release under embargo, others who’ve requested interviews and the ones who have passed. This way the media relations team can send a thorough list of media interest and feedback at the end of every afternoon or at a moment’s notice. Being extremely diligent on active and potential opportunities will show the client that the agency is extremely organized under pressure and well-seasoned in this line of work.
Prep The Client
Now that everything is set in motion. The press release is written and approved. Storylines are in place. Interviews are being scheduled. The client needs to be prepped. Assuming the client has had basic media training beforehand, it’s time for all the creative ideas around messaging and the funding figures to be told by the start-up executives themselves. Crafting talking point to hit the major messaging themes that the team indicated prior to the interview will be helpful to go over before any and all interviews, but especially with reporters who are working on deadline to be the first to break the news once the embargo lifts. It’s smart for executives and the media relations team to think about strong quotes so reporters can easily pick-up quality sound bites to be used in their stories.
Monitor The News
Finally, announcement day is here. Articles are publishing and the client is happy, hopefully. Now, it’s the media relation team’s job to monitor for coverage and convey to the client the overall tone of each published article. Generally, funding announcements skew towards the positive side of the spectrum, especially if interviews were flawless, but it’s still important to highlight certain passages and quotes to show the client how each article portrayed the announcement and which outlets ran with current storylines.