Evolve CommunicationsArticles by: Daniel

Posts By: Daniel

How to Get an Investor to Jump at Your Pitch

Anatomy of an Investor Pitch

Normally, we like to talk about all things public relations here. But, we recently wrapped up a short project with a client to help with messaging, particularly for this client’s investor pitch. Because we work with startups quite frequently, we go to a lot of events where new businesses are pitching themselves to win investor interest.

We’re a sponsor of the upcoming Beta City event, which includes both a VC Pitch Day and a Demo VIP event! Put all these together, and we thought it was a good time to share what we’ve seen work for pitching investors. While we’re firm believers in the adage, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” we’ve seen this formula work again and again in eliciting interest.

Parts of a Pitch

There are essentially six parts to a pitch, and each should answer a specific question:

  • Summary: Who are you and what do you do
  • Problem: What is the problem your product seeks to solve? How real is this problem?
  • Solution: What is the actual solution to this problem? Not just what your product is, but how will your specific product solve the problem?
  • Market opportunity: Not only how big is the market, but how big is the addressable market? Meaning, how much of the market do you realistically believe you can capture?
  • Team: Who are you and what expertise do you have to make this a reality?
  • Ask: What do you believe you need to make this a reality?
Characteristics of a Pitch

Of course, simply having these five parts in your pitch isn’t going to be enough. If the anatomy is just the skeleton of your pitch, you need to flesh it out. Here are some characteristics we’ve seen work really well:

  • Story: You’ve heard this a million times before–people don’t buy what, they buy why. How do you get to why? By telling a story. Doesn’t have to be long, it only needs to illustrate the situation.
  • Surprise: We don’t mean someone jumping out of a cake (though that might grab some laughs). But your pitch should have something in it that surprises the audience–a counter-intuitive fact, for example.
  • Entertainment: The best pitches connect with their audiences emotionally as well as intellectually. Don’t be a goof ball, but also don’t be afraid of showing some personality, either.
  • Why now? Why wasn’t this product made last year, or five years ago even? Why is now such a crucial time for your product to come to market?
  • What is the market change that makes your company/product compelling: Related to “Why Now?” it’s essential to explain what has changed (or failed to change for that matter) in the marketplace that makes the need for your product all that much more urgent. For example, the proliferation of consumer-quality high-speed Internet paved the way for companies like Hulu and Netflix in ways that didn’t exist in previous years.
  • Candid assessment of competitive landscape: This will show you really know your industry. The more knowledgeable you are about your competitors and how your product fits in, the more your own expertise will shine through, making it clear that your company is the one that will best execute on the idea.

Got any more tips? Let us know in the comments below.


How to Use Data-Driven PR Pitches to Spark Media Coverage

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With the rise of Big Data, many observers have noted that we live in a “data rich, information poor” world, meaning that we have more data than we can handle, yet only few insights. After all, data is just numbers and has no inherent value unless we can put them into context of the real world.

And that’s why developing data-driven PR pitches can be tremendous success: They provide insight and context that is otherwise unobtainable, and sometimes surprising. So, how can you incorporate data into your pitches? Here are three ideas to get you started:

1) Use third-party research: No matter what industry you’re in, there is probably a TON of research available to you either for free or for fairly cheap, sometimes through industry associations or research firms. Look for data points that can frame why your business exists. For example, if you’re a startup that helps ecommerce businesses grow, you might find stats in this benchmarking report helpful in crafting a pitch about the companies you’ve worked with become top performers, positioning yourself as an industry expert. However, it’s often not enough to find a single statistic that proves your angle. It’s often a good idea to combine related statistics from separate sources to make your pitch stronger.

Sample headline: Company X develops methodology to create top ecommerce performers. 

2) Mine your own data: Speaking of benchmarking, be sure to mine your own customer data and use that to compare to what else is happening in your industry. A good example of this is mobile ad firm Millennial Media’s various reports on the mobile industry. Most, if not all, of their data comes directly from information gleaned through their own mobile ad network.

What do you do if you’re a new company? Well, if you have customers, you have data. Sure, you might not be able to identify any industry-wide trends with your data, but you can certainly compare that with third-party research a la method #1.

Producing a regular report–be it monthly, quarterly, annually or whatever–will offer media and industry peers  a built in news story when you provide them with an interesting insight. Another great example of this: PNC’s annual Christmas Price Index, which tallies the cost of each of the gifts from the famous “12 Days of Christmas” carol. They’ve been creating this for over 30 years, and it gets media attention EVERY YEAR. 

Sample headline: Ecommerce businesses that use time-limited sales perform 30% better, according to Company X. 

3) Do your own research: Let’s say you’re a business that doesn’t have any data (unlikely), or at least data you don’t feel comfortable sharing. Obviously, you need some data to create a data-driven PR pitch! The solution is to do your own independent research. For example, let’s say your company makes an app for runners. You could create a survey that asks runners various questions related to your business:

Do you track your runs?

If you don’t, why? (Drains batter life, I’m too busy, I don’t care about tracking)

Do you prefer to run in urban, suburban, trail settings?

The point here is that you can gather information about your customers or potential customers to come up with a great data-driven pitch. The side benefit of doing research like this is that you can also use it to drive real business decisions!

Sample headline: 67% of runners say they don’t track their runs because it drains their phone battery

As you can see, incorporating data into your PR efforts can go a long way to garner coverage of your company in today’s data-driven world. Coming up with the right angle can be as easy (or complicated) as looking for the information and insights that make your business relevant.


Is This Newsworthy?

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That’s the question we ask ourselves whenever we’re listening to a client (current or prospective) tell us what’s new with their business. Sometimes, companies sit on news, often because they’re unaware that what they have is newsworthy. Of course, there are other times when companies share what they think is news and, in fact, what they have is just a minor update.

How do you know if something is newsworthy? Here’s a quick list of things to check to help you know if you have a good story.

Has something changed? 

By definition, news is the story of things changing. Very few news stories happen when things stay the same (though they often depict the struggle of people who are trying to create change). Your news needs to illustrate some type of change. That said, not all changes make news stories.

Is it timely? 

The second most important thing about your news is that it’s timely. We live in a world that has a less than 24 hour news cycle. That means that the news media moves fast…reporters often cover stories and then quickly move on to the next topic. If your news is several months old, then it’s possibly past its shelf life.

Is your news relevant? 

This is what we affectionately call the “so-what factor” and is probably one of the most difficult things to gauge. After all, we all think what we’re doing is important. But ask yourself–Will anyone care about this? is your news part of a trend? Or perhaps it bucks an important trend?

Will anyone outside your industry care? 

Once you’ve figured out if someone will care, you should ask yourself if it’s relevant only to your industry. That’s not to say what you have isn’t worthy of the front page of the New York Times, but if no one outside your industry will care, then you might want to hold off on calling the New York Times. Instead, focus on reaching out to outlets that cover your industry.

Is your news entertaining?

In today’s fast-paced news cycle that races to grab as many eyeballs as possible, it’s important for your news to be interesting, or at least entertaining. Remember, news outlets want to publish stories that drive page views–and you want your news to be viewed! Think about what you can do to make your news more interesting and entertaining, to make it really stand out, grab people’s attention.

So the next time you think you have some news you want to share, be sure to think critically about whether it’s really newsworthy. You’ll get more mileage out of better quality news, look better to your customers, your industry and your peers. Plus, do you really want to get on the bad side of an important journalist by pitching a boring news story? We didn’t think so.