cutting through the clutter in startup world

As PR experts who get deeply immersed in our clients’ businesses, we often get caught up in the vacuum of product or service superiority.  When you get too close, it’s hard to see things objectively.  Man on the sun burns.  Story over.

We live in StartupWorld, a place where everyone has an idea, is an entrepreneur and can raise capital (Kickstarter currently has projects seeking funds to publish a book called A Field Guide to Nachos and a separate drive for a calendar featuring the men of game development; yeah, put me down for a nickel).  Sure, innovation is glorious and should be applauded at all turns.  However, through the lens of communications —  where cutting through the clutter has become a matter of survival — it’s no longer just about who is bigger, faster or louder.  It’s now about attempting to slog through quicksand or sail against gale force winds under a torrential downpour.  As Buzz Williams, a country kid who made good, says:  “The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker – show up every day and go to work no matter what.”  For us, that means sharpening our pencils and earning our keep.  Temper the hype and build brands from the ground up.

We think our roles are varied and multiple — take a look at today’s media, also stretched thin. They are often forced to wear many hats and cover multiple beats.  Writing, blogging, Vlogging and Tweeting.  Journalists must do it all.  The result: less time to fully digest each and every industry, company and story they cover.  Take a reporter covering small business – a broad category indeed – yet marked by certain pillars you’d expect media to know instinctively.  Nope.  Due to the rare commodity of time or lack of interest, media are not always aware of all the nuances within a particular beat.  It’s hard.  We get it.  But even the most basic tenets often seem foreign to them.  Consequently, our ability to hone in on news – you know, the bit of information that will fundamentally transform how we live, work and play — has become an exercise of intense focus and laser precision.  Carving out the right cut, trimming the fat and presenting the single perfect piece is critical.  What this means for PR pros is that our roles are more critical than ever.  Either you help position your clients to their advantage or their competitors and the marketplace will do it for them to their disadvantage.

With this in mind, here are a few rules of engagement we embrace at JCUTLER media group:


Don’t just work on your client’s account, dive deep into their business.  Know what they know. Immerse yourself in all facets of their organization.  Know their goals, not just marketing, but business as well. Have a seat at the CEO’s table.


Just like every media outlet is different, so too are the journalists within. Take the time to really understand their work, style and format. Read back articles over the past 12 months.  When you know their writing and points of view intimately, you will more effectively communicate to them and have greater success in securing meaningful client stories.


Always have multiple angles on hand for your story.  Build a communications framework that allows you to pivot based on media feedback, industry trends and breaking news.


Your job is not done until that story has run.  Media are extremely time pressed. We must serve as constant educator and information provider.  Become the reporter’s resource beyond just your client’s agenda, but for the broader piece.  Provide access. And ensure you are telling the right story with the right messaging.

Gone are the days of let’s throw up what we can and hope something sticks.  Every piece must have substantive impact.  To accomplish this, we must work to educate and deliver a well-honed narrative.

Jonathan Cutler
Agency Principal
JCUTLER media group