Navigating the African tech media panorama for startups

Navigating the African tech media panorama for startups

This text was contributed to TechCabal by Maria Adediran.

The truth that you exist is just not information…

Sometimes, a disaster or controversy within the African tech ecosystem ignites debates amongst founders and influencers concerning the deserves of native versus worldwide media protection. Whereas it’s plain that sensational headlines can unfold like wildfire, accusing the native tech media of a sole give attention to the unfavorable is neither truthful nor correct.

At Wimbart, after eight years within the business, I’ve come to grasp a elementary reality that additionally occurs to be Wimbart CEO’s Twitter cowl story: The truth that you exist is just not information. While elevating over one million seed in funds may assure you protection, whether or not you’ve launched a brand new product or expanded, journalists will at all times ask, “So what?” What’s the impression, the innovation, the human story?

The African tech market is brimming with startups desperate to share their narrative. At Wimbart alone, the place we symbolize a modest fraction of African-focused corporations, we frequently discover ourselves amongst at the very least three totally different groups pitching to the identical journalist in any given week. It’s necessary to recognise that journalists’ inboxes are inundated with as much as 50, typically a whole lot of pitches, on any given day. Recognising their arduous work is essential—they’re the storytellers who’ve elevated our narratives, making worldwide media platforms not solely discover but additionally rent native groups to push the narrative additional. Once I started working in PR for African tech, capturing the eye of worldwide media was a formidable problem—it was H-A-R-D. We owe a lot to native publications which have tirelessly championed our tales; they deserve our gratitude, or “flowers,” if you’ll.

Pitching a narrative that may resonate and safe media protection is an intricate artwork. For these with in-house communications groups or a PR company like Wimbart, there’s assist to sculpt the narrative. But, we’re conscious that not all, particularly early-stage startups, have these sources. In case your pitches occur to be met with a charge card, it‘s an indicator that what’s being pitched is perceived extra as promotional than editorial content material. There lies the excellence between what is called “earned media” and “paid media”. In layman’s phrases, earned media is akin to a badge of honour, granted for its intrinsic worthiness, whereas paid media is much more easy; it’s protection that you simply pay to safe—zero thought required. Every serves a goal however they don’t seem to be interchangeable. 

So, you’re set on securing earned media protection with out resorting to monetary outlay? Wonderful determination. Under are some actionable steps that may elevate your story from simply one other pitch that finally ends up unread to headline-worthy information:

Analysis publications and journalists 

Discovering the proper journalist for a media outlet to share your startup’s story ought to mirror the method of selecting the right enterprise accomplice or founding group. It includes aligning your startup’s mission with the outlet’s editorial focus the place attainable, making certain there’s mutual curiosity and objectives. This due diligence includes thorough analysis into their previous work and figuring out the journalists inside a particular publication who champion themes that resonate along with your enterprise. Whether or not it’s your organization’s modern method to sustainability, vital funding achievements, or the founder’s distinctive profile, discovering that match means you’re able to pitch.

Pitching to the proper particular person transcends mere protection; it turns into a chance to weave your story into their ongoing narrative. It’s about making a partnership the place your startup’s achievement and aspirations complement their storytelling, making certain that your narrative will get shared and actually resonates with their viewers, making a significant impression. 

Consideration-Grabbing Topic Electronic mail

Your e-mail’s topic line is the gateway to capturing a journalist’s consideration, so make each phrase rely. Think about you’re crafting the editorial for tomorrow’s newspaper, it ought to be compelling sufficient to make anybody pause and take discover. Take inspiration from the impactful tales you see on main platforms titles like “How [innovation/company] is altering [industry]” will not be simply headlines, they’re calls to curiosity. Use this method to reflect every publication’s storytelling fashion in your e-mail topics. This not solely piques curiosity but additionally reveals you’ve achieved your homework and perceive what resonates with their readership. 

Hold it punchy and to the purpose 

Hold your pitch concise and riveting. As highlighted above, journalists sift via a mountain of pitches each day, so it’s essential make yours stand out by hitting the important thing level proper from the beginning, very similar to you’d share a bit of irresistible gossip with a good friend. Spotlight probably the most compelling side of your story instantly to seize their consideration in any other case you danger dropping it earlier than the second paragraph—this might embrace placing information, a buyer story, and so on. If there’s depth so as to add, think about bullet factors or a abstract after your e-mail signature. Alternatively, you would hold it in reserve for a follow-up, which is usually required. Studying prolonged pitches may be daunting, however this technique respects journalists’ time and piques their curiosity, considerably enhancing the probabilities of your story being featured. It’s about placing the right stability: being informative but partaking, making certain your message isn’t just one other within the big pile however a must-read.

Construct a relationship earlier than pitching 

Enjoyable truth: My path to touchdown my first massive function was paved not simply by an intriguing story, however extra so by the connection I had nurtured with the journalist effectively forward of the time I wanted to pitch my consumer’s information. It’s essential to start out constructing these connections early, lengthy earlier than the urgency to disseminate your information arises. This may be achieved by demonstrating a honest curiosity of their work, partaking in significant conversations, and increasing your help, comparable to connecting them with a speaker, with out instantly anticipating a return; it will possibly remarkably shift your stance from that of an outsider to a revered collaborator. I’ve discovered that probably the most fruitful relationships are these the place communication may be so simple as sending bullet factors over WhatsApp. But, reaching this stage of informality and belief with journalists requires an funding of time and real interplay, shifting you from simply one other contact of their inbox to a trusted and acquainted determine.

As we’ve established, the artwork of pitching is nuanced, requiring extra than simply presenting info—simply because a publication is taken into account “native” or regionalised, it doesn’t imply you shouldn’t observe the artwork of pitching. Honestly talking, you would tick the entire proper packing containers along with your pitch and because of timing or sources, it doesn’t get picked up. But when your pitch is compelling and memorable sufficient, the journalist will come again to you on the applicable time. Journalists search tales that captivate their viewers and produce vital consideration to their platforms, due to this fact pitching have to be strategic. By following the following pointers, founders cannot solely refine their failed method but additionally construct respectable, productive relationships with African tech media. This foundational work is essential for when it’s time to scale up efforts and introduce a PR knowledgeable *cough, Wimbart* to the fold. Let’s flip your innovation into information that issues. 

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