“I think I pitched the press more than I did the VCs when i was starting out”, Mark Essien’s words at the #StartupSouth event in Port Harcourt last year.
Over the weekend, i took part in a Facebook intellectual debate about the low press coverage given to startups outside Lagos. Also discussed were thoughts and impressions that the reportage of tech news in a select region, was being wrongly presented, as echoes from other parts of the country. Simply put, when reporting information or data about specific regions, it should not be attributed to the entire country as there is more to Nigeria than just Lagos.
Some participants in the conversation pointed out that media houses in Lagos were doing a “disservice” to other parts of the country and needed to expand their reach to the nooks and crannies of the country. A few others pointed out the need to create platforms to give coverage and promotion to the startups cropping up all over, and another group pointing out the needlessness of such venture, reasoning that there was no need to birth more platforms; rather, support should be given to existing localized ones.
Do I agree with the insinuations? Yes. Do i see it as a problem? No. Reason – You cannot work with information you do not have. It’s no secret that Lagos is a major media hub in Africa and this cannot be unconnected to the beehive of activities that take place in the city. They deserve credit for perfecting the art of exporting their stories.
On the other hand, media professionals ought to pay more attention to audience segmentation as a valuable tool to avoid media bias and employ less of selective perception while reporting. However, the blame should not be ascribed to one party only; we all have a role to play in the timely and accurate dissemination of information. Like i pointed out earlier, “you cannot work with information you do not have”.
WHAT TO DO?
1. Entrepreneurs down south ought to learn how to pitch the press, don’t spend all your life perfecting your elevator pitch, forgetting that you actually have to grow your numbers and how better to grow your numbers than with the help of the media? You want your name out there, then you got to take it out there. You do not need to wait until your startup has exceeded all your expectations before you begin to tell you story. This brings me to my next point.
2. You do not need Linda Ikeji to tell the world what you have been up to and I mean that figuratively. If you own a social media handle, start talking. Don’t have a blog? get one. It could be personal or it could be the company’s or it could be both. Either way, get talking. No one will shower encomiums on you if they do not know what you do in the first place. Celebrate milestones, achievements, talk about your team etc Bottom line, start talking!
3. Regional media publications should focus more on promoting local stories rather than focusing on known “brands” in order to gain readership (all bloggers guilty of this say aye!). It is okay to talk about happenings outside the region but it should not take pre-eminence over local content; case in point Al Jazeera network.
Frankly speaking, I really don’t see the need to blame others than ourselves where press coverage is concerned and I am speaking to those outside Lagos. It is not a competition for attention. There is really no point painting it out as one. It’s simply a case of a reporter reporting available news.
Please share your thoughts on this issue in the comment section below.
Acknowledgement: Uche Aniche’s Facebook Timeline
Image Credit: umaryland.edu