For an emerging startup, nothing is more important than exposure, i.e. making sure people know you exist. As we’ve recently seen, sometimes you can get your name out there before you even have a product. However, that is not usually the case. Startups will bend over backwards in hopes of obtaining coverage in tech blogs and other leading publications. The motivation is obvious – in the tech world, you’re nothing until someone else says you’re something. This is especially crucial for startups, as they are often looking not only to inform users about their product, but also to attract investors and expand to new markets.

Today, more than ever, startups have a very wide range of options to get their name out there. Obviously social media is an extremely useful tool. While it is mostly free and enables startups to spread their carefully crafted messages without any external editing, it has its limits. In order to be even remotely effective, you need to have a significant base of followers. Even then, you will probably need to put some money into your posts in order make them visible to the users following you. So while this is a very convenient tool, which enables Startups to convey their message directly to users with no middleman, it will probably not have a substantial enough reach to suffice on its own.

Not surprisingly, most startups’ (and most companies in general) would like to receive press coverage, and would define it as a top priority in their communications strategy. We can all understand why. Media coverage is perceived by the general public as objective and unbiased, surpassing social media and advertising by a huge margin. However, as we all know, very few companies actually receive notable, positive press coverage. A good reporter won’t just run a press release sent to him by a startup’s PR rep – they want a fresh, new angle on a topic they’re passionate about. While many startups have excellent products that are well worth the public’s attention, they are often not deemed “print worthy” as they do not fall into the category of news.

Photo credit: CC-BY heisenbergmedia, Flickr

Photo credit: CC-BY heisenbergmedia, Flickr

Paid media on the other hand is perceived as a last resort. Startups are often reluctant to spend big bucks on paid ads, either because they don’t think they’re as effective, or because they simply don’t have the cash to spend. This misconception is causing startups to miss out on an opportunity to leverage paid media for more exposure. Obviously some startups simply can’t afford it, but they have options too. One such option is the 7VPD startups contest, sponsored by ProSiebenSat.1, one of largest media companies in Germany. Startups with B2C products are welcomed to apply, and seven excelling applicants will each be invited to the NOAH conference in London for a seven minute pitch in front of an international Jury, made of top VCs and tech leaders from all over the world.

The winners will receive a total of €7 million in TV coverage, plus additional prizes from various media partners. This is a unique Startup contest as it offers something different; not a cash prize, but rather millions of euros in media exposure in the European market.

The real kicker is that 7VPD is actively seeking out Israeli startups to apply. With Israel being the proverbial “Startup Nation”, 7VPD’s team hopes that Israel could be a vast source of creative, groundbreaking startups for its competition. This could be a game changing opportunity for Israeli startups looking to broaden their reach.  Startups interested in applying can do so here:

http://www.sevenventures.de/en/7vpd/application

Don’t forget that paid media can and often does generate more media – more followers on social platforms, more exposure, and possibly even press – all in a relatively wide reach. Startups should utilize every tool available to them in order to get their name out there, and ideally create a mix of Social media, paid media, and press, if possible.