Press coverage is difficult to obtain, especially for startups. But once achieved, it can prove to generate great results: building your brand, connecting with key stakeholders and growing your business. 

A few weeks ago, I was a panelist at Startup Stadium’s Market Entry Bootcamp, where I spoke on market penetration and growth hack strategies. This event was attended by over 20 budding entrepreneurs and PR personnel from successful startups eager to learn the ropes to successfully executing their PR strategy.

When attending such sessions, participants often clue me into their primary difficulties in getting press coverage. Contacting journalists (and getting responses) was an area where the majority of startups struggled the most. How do we actually approach journalists? How can we make sure they publish our story? How do we get journalists to respond to our emails? What do we write in our email pitch? Beyond writing a press release, there were clearly difficulties with getting the attention of journalists.

To sum it up; How do I stand out amidst a crowd of innovative tech stories?

Here are some strategies we’ve used with our clients at G3 Partners that have delivered excellent results. Armed with these tips, and if executed properly, you’ll soon be on your way to getting top tier press coverage that can power your startup into the public consciousness.

If you’re looking for PR experts, check out our Content Services!


1. Don’t bcc a list of journalists, ever!

Sending an email to journalists to cover your story can oftentimes feel like a copy-paste task. However, this does not mean you should be sending the exact same email to hundreds of journalists by bcc. This comes across as extremely impersonal and lazy, and demonstrates your disregard for their passion or a lack of attention to what they are covering. You need to invest time to know what they are interested in. 

2. Research journalists first and only mail them if your story is relevant

Imagine being a big data writer and receiving a pitch about a company’s latest music sharing app. Annoying and off topic, right? This is exactly how journalists feel when they receive thousands of pitch emails that are completely unrelated to what they cover. Most journalists have specific subject areas that they write on. Think finance, tech, fashion…it can dive even deeper than that. If you fail to recognize this important detail, you are showing a lack of consideration towards the writer, who may not want to open any more of your emails. Always invest the time to conduct background research before pitching to journalists, or risk the possibility of coming off as lazy. 

3. Build real relationships with journalists, starting on social media

Before sending out your pitch emails, take some time to create connections with journalists. Once you’ve compiled a short-list of writers specific to your story, try to follow them on social media. Connect with them on LinkedIn with a professional, yet friendly and personalised message. Follow them on Twitter and comment, like, retweet their relevant tweets. Make an effort to show genuine interest in what they do. This can go a long way when you reach out to them later on with your pitch.

To perfect your pitch, familiarize yourself with some of the journalists’ recent work. This gives you more insight into their style of writing and the topics that are of interest to them. The more knowledge you have about a writer, the easier you can tailor your pitch email to match their writing style and enhance your chances of scoring an article.

If you’re looking for PR experts, check out our Content Services!


4. Perfect your email subject

A journalist’s email inbox is a never ending flood of unopened messages that keep on coming. Everyday, journalists receive hundreds of emails from startups just like you, hoping for coverage. Do you think they actually have the time to go through all of them? Reality is, they probably don’t. Instead, they’ll skim over the subject titles and click on those of interest. This is why you need an eye catching title that will stand out amongst the clutter. Convey the value proposition of your story in a few words and make them count. You have to entice them into wanting to find out more. If you’ve just launched the world’s first connected coffee cup in partnership with Starbucks, then that is what your subject line should be: “Partnered With Starbucks We Just Launched World’s First Smart Coffee Cup”. A catchy subject line is sure to prompt the journalist to at least open your email. 

Chances are you won’t get the subject line right straight away. Try writing five or even fifteen options, take a breather then choose the one that’s the most compelling.

5. Pitch Perfect

Once the journalist has opened your email, you need to carry the momentum forward and don’t disappoint with your email pitch. Be concise, but convey all the necessary information. Describe your product/service, with emphasis on the value this brings to your targeted audience. Don’t forget to introduce yourself briefly and include steps you would like the journalist to take (usually to contact you for an interview to write a story based on your press release). To get that extra brownie point in your favor, you can also offer an exclusive on the story. Always attach your press kit to the email so that the journalist can refer to it for extra information. This saves them time in going back and forth in case of any further inquiries.

The biggest pet peeve of any journalist is reading an email full of buzzwords and jargon. Such pitch emails are impossible for writers to decipher because they tend to be so obscure. Bearing that in mind, keep your text simple and to the point.

6. Avoid long narratives and biased opinions

As mentioned above, keeping your pitch simple and factual is the way to go. Don’t dive into long, needless explanations. If there is no proof that your product/service is the best in the world, do not mention it. Avoid giving your opinion, as this may taint their own. Writers prefer to come to their own conclusions, so let them do so.

7. A picture speaks a thousand words

Providing powerful pictures or videos that can help visualize your story speak more than words can. This will not only allow the journalist to have a better understanding of your product/service, but will also serve as visuals for the body for the article. Make sure to attach at least two or three pictures in high resolution. Images of your product, company logo and your CEO/team are also good staples.

If you’re looking for PR experts, check out our Content Services!


8. Timing is key

Optimal times to reach out to journalists are usually at the beginning of the week, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday. Aim to send your pitch early in the morning to increase your chances, since writers often check their inbox in the morning. Stray away from end of week outreach and avoid public holidays. Failure to do so will most likely result in your email being lost in their overcrowded inbox. 

Journalists like to cover things that are happening now (i.e. products that are already in the market or that are relevant to the present). If you reach out for a launch that is occurring several months from now, your story will most likely not be given attention. If you have a pre-existing relationship with a journalist, you can send them a message a week before you would like the article to go out. Otherwise, it is best to build a relationship at least one month ahead of the start of your outreach. Don’t send your full press list too far in advance, but send a short email with the basics and let them know you’ll contact them again when the story is ready for publication.

9. Be persistent

No one likes to be constantly pestered with follow up emails, but one or two are perfectly acceptable. Send a short, friendly reminder if you haven’t heard from them in a few days. If you still don’t receive a response, send one final follow up, perhaps with a slightly different story angle. Or try reaching out on social media (Twitter is a great platform for that). If that doesn’t work and you are still left with an unresponsive writer, then stop. There is no point in spamming the journalist, as this might negatively impact your relationship and reduce your chances of getting published in the future. Remember that it is not their job to give you free coverage. If they haven’t replied after several outreaches, there’s probably a reason. They could be very busy or just not interested in your story at the moment. 

Another important thing to remember is that a non-response doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in your startup. Try again the next time you have an interesting story to pitch. Adopt the attitude that ‘no’ just means ‘try again next time.’

If you’re looking for PR experts, check out our Content Services!


10. Sample outreach email for journalists

Hi [name],

My name is [name] and I am the [title] of [company]. [company name] was founded to [value of your product or service]. I’m excited to bring you news that we have just raised our first funding round from [name of VC]. I am emailing to see if you would be interested in writing an article about this momentous news.

[Company] launched [when] on both Google Play and the App Store and we have [key achievement]. Our recent funding will help us [do what] and we are already gearing up for the next stage of growth.

I have attached our press release and images with this email. Please let me know if you would like any additional information and and I am happy to arrange a follow-up interview any time.

Thanks for taking the time to consider our news for [name of publication], I really appreciate it!

I look forward to hearing from you,

[name]

[title, company]

[phone number]

 

With these 10 tips in mind, you can now perfect your pitch, impress journalists and get your story published! 

If you have any inquiries, do not hesitate to contact us directly. Follow our blog for more expert tips on all things marketing and content creation!

Interested in doing media outreach but don’t have the capabilities? Contact us and we’ll set up a free initial consultation.

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