While most entrepreneurs are overwhelmed just by getting their products to work and building their company, an important aspect of building your startup that doesn’t get as much attention is getting in touch with media and building brand recognition.
This is an issue that Gwen Elliot, producer of The Naked Entrepreneur show, addressed as she moderated her Show Me The Media panel featuring Tom Emrich, founder of We Are Wearables; Sarah Vermunt, founder of Careergasm; Karlyn Percil, founder of SisterTalk Group women’s leadership network (which was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show) and Sara Lynn Cauchon, creator of fastest-growing YouTube cooking channel The Domestic Geek.
The panelists talked about how to get covered and noticed in the media and how to create media that is valuable to their audiences, as those in attendance delightfully stuffed themselves with sushi, beer and wine at the Shopify office in Toronto.
While many panels in the tech community focus on building on the business side, the word of the night was definitely “authenticity” as the panelists underscored the importance of knowing who you are and what you can offer to your audience in order to make a compelling case for your ideas.
“You should have great content that speaks to who you are and what you know because that will differentiate you from the other person,” Percil says. “Why are you in this field, and why are you passionate about it?”
Emrich adds, “Once you realize you have something to say and you have a distinct opinion, that’s when you know you’re equipped to go on television or write an article, because you have a viewpoint.”
On the authenticity front, Vermunt added that people shouldn’t be afraid to be who they are online while they’re creating content.
“Even if you’re starting small with just your own stuff, make sure the content is good and make sure it’s really you, because you don’t want to be another boring voice out there,” Vermunt says. “People trying to get featured in the media are very afraid to be themselves, but that always feels shitty.”
In terms of getting media attention from mainstream outlets, Cauchon, who has worked as a television host and producer in the past, says it’s important to “bring value” to the media rather than becoming obsessed with marketing yourself.
“As a producer and reporter, the minute you try to sell my audience, I can’t work with you anymore,” Cauchon says. “You have to have a valuable proposition for the audience that goes beyond benefitting you, so really think about what that is before you approach media.”
However, people don’t necessarily need to wait to get picked up before they start establishing themselves – with so many free outlets like Twitter, Medium and Facebook for publishing, people can create a voice of credibility on their own.
“As much as I appreciate any media opportunity, you can be a media company today by creating your own channels,” Emrich says. “That’s where you need to begin – do it for yourself, and then do it for the community.”