A recent Business Insider blog post talks about why some startups gain traction while others languish. The fact of the matter is that gaining earned media coverage early on is critical to driving growth for startups. When you donít have a big ad budget and itís time to make your brand recognized in the market, nothing beats the power of the press.

The post goes on to provide examples of startups that have thrived as a result of ongoing, credible media exposure and offers short bios on some of the key media personnel covering technology today. Itís a nice mix of traditional journalists and digital media reporters, but one key element is missing. While it is great to know who to go to for story coverage, how should you approach them, and how do you get their attention?

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs think that simply shooting out tweets and blogging will gain attention from the media. But new media and traditional media still rely on credible sources of information for most of their story ideas. This means that they put the highest priorities on sources that they recognize.

When looking to garner media coverage, entrepreneurs should consider enlisting outside expertise, in the same way they do for IT, legal and accounting matters. Engaging the services of a qualified PR professional can save time, and ultimately money, by shortcutting the process of building relationships and providing information and appropriate story ideas to the media themselves. Cutting corners with a DIY approach to PR can be risky. After all, if a startupís brand building efforts are not executed correctly from the outset, the damage can be substantial Ė a companyís reputation is its most valuable currency in todayís digital media/information economy.