Not so long ago, securing investor funding made for the crème de la crème of press announcements. It was an opportunity to showcase growth, provide validation and stand above the crowd — and often led to a wide swath of glowing press coverage.
While all of those things can still ring true, the landscape has vastly changed in the past couple years. PitchBook reported that in 2019, US VC investment surpassed $130 billion for the second consecutive year after a record-breaking 2018, with “mega-rounds and mega-funds becoming increasingly common trends in the startup ecosystem.”
With the number and size of deals now increasing each quarter — compounded by an increasingly crowded news landscape — funding announcements just aren’t what they used to be. We’ve worked with many clients at all stages of their financing and have learned a thing or two about how to make an investment round successful in this new landscape.
Here are five strategies to nail your next funding announcement.
Evolve Your Messaging
A common pitfall companies make when executing a funding announcement is pursuing a similar messaging strategy across all series announcements, highlighting ongoing growth, how unique the company is, the excitement of investors — you’ve heard it all before.
Those aspects are important of course, but what’s more important is to think about the objective. Do you want to gain market share? Define a new category? Position yourself for an IPO? Make sure your messaging meets that objective.
When approaching any funding round, first identify the overarching intent, then reverse-engineer your strategy to support it. This makes for a more effective funding opportunity announcement that will better resonate with the market — and media — while supporting your business goals.
What’s Your Story?
The bar is increasingly high on what constitutes a high amount of funding these days. Some will even tell you that many reporters won’t cover your round unless it’s over $100 million. But the truth is, there’s no hard and fast rule about what makes a funding opportunity round newsworthy.
What matters most is the story you have to tell. Rounds well under $100 million can gain strong interest if backed by a compelling narrative development. Is your company carving out a new category, or reinventing an old one? Is it solving a problem that will change lives or businesses? Do you have a clever business model or fascinating founding story?
Whether $500,000 or $500 million, those are the types of stories that will land interest. And keep in mind that the same version of the story might not necessarily appeal to everyone — so make sure your story development can be tailored to resonate with all your core audiences.
To Exclusive or Not To Exclusive?
Two of the most common media strategies with funding news are to either pursue an “exclusive” with one trusted reporter, or offer the story more widely to a group of several target journalists.
Both approaches have pros and cons. An exclusive generally ensures a high-quality, more in-depth feature in exchange for insider access, but results in less volume of coverage reaching different audiences. Broader outreach can drive more widespread awareness, but may not land the same quality or even any coverage at all if not done properly.
Yet, we tend to think about it a bit differently: it’s not so much about exclusive vs. broader approach. Instead, look at the story from many different perspectives and tailor various aspects of the story to well-targeted reporters and outlets. For example, is there a compelling angle around the underlying technology? Is there a human interest element to the story? Has a market shift created an inflection point that makes the company even more relevant now, causing an acceleration in growth? Is money flowing into the sector or category, showing the emergence of a new trend?
The right strategy ultimately comes down to your objective and details of the round, but tailoring your outreach in this way allows you to make the most of the news across all your intended audiences.
Assets, Assets, Assets
This one goes back to the importance of a good story. You can’t have just the main character — you need the conflict, supporting characters and plot points along the way.
Think about all the elements that support your narrative and build out a robust arsenal of assets. What kind of industry data could prove the value of your category? What numbers and proof points can you share on your growth? What sorts of visuals and imagery could help illustrate?
This also includes recruiting influencers and advocates — whether customers, investors, partners or analysts — who can support your news and serve as resources for journalists. Reporters, as well as potential investors and customers, tend to be skeptical and won’t just take your word for it. Engaging third parties is critical in providing credibility for your company, industry and the problem you are trying to solve.
Nowadays, any major news should be seen as a holistic campaign. The best funding announcements are not stand-alone, but tie into a company’s overarching narrative and branding, creating rich opportunities for creative activations that extend the life of your news.
Look to take a comprehensive, cross-channel approach, maximizing your news on social media and other owned company and executive channels. In addition to the usual posting across social media staples, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, publish complementary posts on LinkedIn, Medium or your company blog to seed more of your messaging, incorporating social-first content, visuals and assets to bring it all to life. If you’re unsure of what channels make sense for your , do some on where your target audience looks for industry insights.
And, don’t do it alone. Bring in your employees and third-party advocates, encouraging them to promote the news as well and engaging with their posts.
We’re Here To Help
With the state of the investor and media landscape, it has become exceedingly difficult for companies to rise above the pack with their funding news. But by focusing on the right story, strategy and assets, it’s possible to use your financing to raise the profile of your company, gain traction with media, reach new audiences and propel your business toward new outcomes.
Have some exciting investment news or funding opportunity in the works? We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line to discuss how we can make the most of it.