PR for Startups: How to approach Tech Reporters

PR for Startups: How to approach Tech Reporters

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Introduction

Every startup wishes to be covered by TechCrunch, Mashable and The Next Web. Who wouldn’t want free press by leading online publications with a huge clout? Getting featured by a tech reporter certainly boosts traffic and gives your startup some degree of validation.

Sadly, wishes aren’t horses, and not all startups can enjoy the free ride. Thus, it’s important for startups to choose publications that fit their industry and send them a non-generic pitch. This is easier said, than done of course. Many startups are stuck in the first step itself, that is finding tech reporters relevant to their startup.

In this article we are going to cover the following:

  1. Advantages of getting featured by Tech Reporters
  2. How to write the perfect pitch
  3. Tools to connect with Tech Reporters

Advantages of getting featured by Tech Reporters

As a startup progresses it figures out its best sources of traffic and customers, but working on getting media attention is always a good idea. With the limited resources a startup has in the initial stages, here’s why media attention is a saviour:

It’s free

Free press is all you’ve got till you can spend big bucks on a specially tailored PR campaign. Not that approaching PR agencies is a bad idea, but bootstrapped startups have to be prudent with where they spend their cash. This includes  investing in ads on social media or Google. Because remember, once you get featured in a particular publication, you also get exposure on their social media accounts with scores of followers.

Receive validation for your startup

Tech reporters gets hundreds of pitches. And they choose you. That definitely says something about your idea (and your pitch). Getting coverage by a top news outlet indicates that you are at least doing something right, despite all the uncertainty a startup usually dabbles with. This is not to say that startups that don’t get noticed by tech reporters are not on the right track, or that this is the ultimate form of validation you should seek. But getting written also lends you some credibility in the eyes of your customers. After you get covered, you can also put up a logo of the publication on your website, with the article.

Drive traffic to your website/app

Let’s face it, all startups are trying to figure this out. And there is only so much traffic that a free social media account can get you! A news article at the time of your launch can do wonders for your traffic and conversions. Traffic from news outlets is even more valuable as it is likely to consist of a good mix of influencers in your industry, startup and tech enthusiasts, along with your target users. What’s more, they are likely to provide you with valuable feedback about your product, which is critical at an early stage.

Get noticed by investors

Not to mention that a mention by a top tech reporter is  free advertisement of your startup to potential investors, and this may just be the big break you were hoping for! Generate some buzz on a few popular tech websites, and an investor or two is sure to take note, if your idea is at least somewhat viable.

Get discovered by new team members

The importance of attracting good talent cannot be stressed enough. But here’s the catch: Just like truly coveted positions are never found on job boards, so are truly invaluable employees. Such incredibly talented employees are always on the lookout for the next challenge and thus, avid readers of startup websites. This is a great opportunity for them to discover your startup and join you.

How to write the perfect pitch

This topic would require an article of its own, but we have covered the most important aspects of a good pitch below:

Direct it to the right reporter: You may have written a mind-blowing pitch, but what if you sent it to the wrong reporter? Your startup won’t be covered and you will be left wondering what you did wrong. Thus, a good pitch does not only require that you write it well, but that you also research who you send it to well in advance.

Make the headline catchy: This is a no-brainer and yet innumerable perfectly good products are ignored because the founder failed to make them sound interesting. Get creative! This is your labour of love, present it in a way that the reader can see the same spark in it that you do. If this is not your strongest suit, enlist some help, but do not, in any case, make your product sound drab!

Make the pitch short: Tech reporters receive a ton of email and certainly do not have time to read through long pitches. Cover the essentials of your product, as best as you can, and wrap up your pitch. Get them interested enough in your product to give it a go.

Sources and tools to connect with tech reporters:

After we discussed advantages of getting media attention and essentials of a good pitch, here are the different sources through which you can contact tech reporters:

  1. Email and Contact Us Buttons

Almost all websites have these, and definitely give you a place to start. If the pitch is good enough, it may get picked up from here. There are some good compilations of tech reporter lists with emails available online. A couple that we came across are Tech Reporter Contact List shared by Brad Feld on his blog, and another list shared by Publicize.co. Be sure to check if the list has been updated though. You do not want to pitch to ex-TechCrunch employees, only to not receive a reply and feel dejected.

  1. Mutual contacts

Being inundated with hundreds of pitches each day, tech reporters are likely to ignore your pitch if you simply email them. The chances of success are much higher if you have mutual friend who introduces you to them. A short and concise email about your project and why would it be interesting, from a mutual friend can go a long way in getting noticed by reporters.

  1. Social Media:

Twitter

Do not underestimate the power of this tool, when it comes to building relationships with reporters. Journalists are most active on Twitter and consider it an important tool. Note that building a relationship is critical. Inundated direct messages will not only be ignored, they are pretty much considered spam by reporters and will get you blacklisted. Share their content if you find it interesting and start a conversation or two with them. If you feel your product/idea falls would interest them, you can tweet to them about it and they are likely to take you more seriously.

LinkedIn InMail

This is another good platform to reach out to journalists, although again beware of being perceived as spam. Make sure your profile is complete, such that it reflects your work experience and milestones clearly. Build a network that you can leverage to reach out to tech reporters. Publishing on LinkedIn is also a good way of establishing your credibility in your market. Take time to build relationships with reporters instead of bombarding 50 people at once with your pitch.

  1. Platforms and tools:

StartupBlink Reporters Tab

Another way to reach out to tech reporters is through the StartupBlink Tech Reporters Tab, with top reporters such as Matt Navarra (The Next Web) and Anthony Cuthbertson (Forbes), registered on the platform. Simply sign up and let them know about your product. You can choose reporters by the topics they write about as well as their Similar Web site rank. Be sure to pitch to reporters relevant to your product, so your pitch isn’t ignored.

Muck Rack

Muck Rack is another platform where you can find relevant reporters and bloggers to pitch your startup. In addition, you can find out which journalists are sharing your content online, receive notifications when a journalist writes an article on a topic you are interested in, and connect with them. It is a comprehensive platform where you can plan and measure your PR efforts.

Help A Reporter Out (HARO)

HARO is a reverse pitch platform, where you can become a source for an article that a journalist is writing. In essence, instead of chasing tech reporters you will be telling them about topics they want to hear about. If you think you can add value to a reporter’s story, explain how and chances are the reporter will be interested in knowing more about your startup. This is a good way of establishing yourself as an expert on your market and industry. The platform has more than 35,000 journalists and over 50,000 queries per year.

PressFriendly

This is another tool that allows you to connect with the right tech reporter to pitch your startup. They suggest reporters to you based on your pitch and the articles they have written in the past. Once you have a list of reporters, you can send your pitch to each of them and track email “opens” and replies.

Conclusion

In today’s age of information overload, getting your startup covered by a publication that people actually care about is a great way to get people talking about your startup. Decide which reporters who would be interested in your startup, with the help of tools and sources mentioned above and start working on your pitch. And remember, make it a pitch hard to ignore!

What tools and sources have you used to reach tech reporters? How did the coverage help your startup? Tell us in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “PR for Startups: How to approach Tech Reporters”

  1. Great article! We are linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the good writing.

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