As a seasoned PR pro fielding questions from potential clients, few words uttered are more anxiety-inducing than these: “I’d like for you to get media coverage in TechCrunch, New York Times, and Buzzfeed…” As if public relations people can place such an order, as one blithely does when listing the toppings desired on a pizza for game night. Getting picked up by these popular outlets isn’t simple. In fact, it is pretty difficult considering so many pitches are directed to a handful of writers. Even so, there are some ways you can personally make a difference:
1. Attend Tech Events and simply say “Hi”—Nothing beats making a personal connection prior to sending a well-crafted email pitch. Quite often, tech journalists who regularly review new startups and mobile apps also attend tech conferences and startup events throughout the year. Often, they’re participating as speakers, panelists, moderators, or they are scoping out newsworthy innovators, just like you. Be sure to catch a writer for free. There’s always a window of opportunity to chat and become acquainted.
2. Oh no, not another App!– Well, even if it is a mobile app, preferably it is one that is truly innovative. It’s unlikely TechCrunch will showcase yet another review of another parking notification app. Check out TechCrunch’s App Fatigue article. That’s not to say other outlets won’t cover your app or some other previously covered technology. But for the heavy hitters: TechCrunch, Mashable, Re/Code, NY Times, Business Insider, BuzzFeed, etc., you may find it challenging. If you’re intent on pitching them nonetheless, at least be sure to pinpoint your business’ nuances: something few, if any others can claim. For example, maybe you represent the first African-American software developer who served as a military officer in Iraq!
3. Brevity!—Keep your pitches to tech writers informative and concise. You’d be surprised how many pitches they receive on a daily basis. It is impossible for them to get through each one, so stating the main facts up front is a smart move. You can save the details in your next email once you have the attention of the writer who comes back to you in a follow-up email.
4. Piggyback—Think about the trending news item of the day or week. Is there any reasonable relationship between your technology and this trend? If there is, you should try pitching an idea that piggybacks off an issue that’s topical. Again, keep it short but highlight the relevance to the trending topic.
5. Choose correctly—Discover which writers care and write about your technology. You can identify these by reading their work and doing a little extra homework. For example, an enterprise SaaS software writer may not be interested in startups specializing in mobile technology. You’re much better off and way ahead of the game reaching out only to journalists or bloggers who specialize in writing about the topic that matches your business.
Rightly or wrongly, technology writers are the gatekeepers in many respects to highly coveted editorials and technology reviews. Many founders and developers are aware of this because most who contact me for help with PR believe the coverage they’ll receive is priceless. This may or may not be true depending on your business objectives. Nevertheless, as one who regularly pitches TechCrunch, Mashable, BuzzFeed, NY Times and the rest, when I do prevail, I can assure you it is always nice and maybe even well worth any initial angst I might have experienced.
Main Photo: #WOCinTechChat
Lori Shepherd is the founder of 25SecondsPR where she manages small to large PR campaigns for digital, technology, and nonprofits worldwide. Her company is based in Oakland, California. She spent 15+ years as an in-house PR professional working for Silicon Valley technology companies including Hewlett Packard, Intuitive Surgical, and Guide by Cell. After forming her company, she has worked on the accounts of brands including Blitzify, Grammarlt.com FMSI, VentureFund.io, SkyChildCare, Nobody Cares Go Harder, the Points of Light Foundation, the Association of Women In Science, Local Futures, PrivacyAtlas, and numerous other.