The big things to remember:
- We get hundreds of emails per day. I can barely keep up, so I need to use personal filters to weed out stories I'm going to follow up on. That means I trash long emails, emails that don't get to the point, and anything with buzzwords.
- Best thing is always an intro from somebody I know about the company/product. Cold pitches have a much lower chance of working.
- Short, pithy emails. Get to the point in less than a paragraph and then ask if I want to learn more.
- Know the audience. Mashable is a consumer-centric publication -- we don't cover a lot of enterprise news or startups. Our readers DEVOUR great consumer products that help them manage their digital lives though.
- Know the reporter. Mashable has two reporters that focus on startups. Most of my time is spent editing, which means I have less time than I'd like to write about startups. Some reporters focus on entertainment, others on mobile. Know which one focuses on what and try to get the appropriate person to pitch.
- Don't pitch via Facebook, Twitter or anything but email or in-person if you're at an event and find me. Even then though, I'll ask you to email me in case I want to forward it to another reporter.
Other journalists may have different feelings, but I think most of us prefer email.
Does something like that exist? I feel like email isn't necessarily the most efficient system for it.
As for funding, I sometimes use that as a barometer of how "legitimate" you are. So yeah, if I see Sequoia is investing in you, I will perk up a bit, because I trust their judgement in picking good startups. But it isn't a deal-breaker by any means.
This works with dead tree media, too. Also works after you've been covered, since then you are an Officially Credible Source. There's a reporter who calls me every time she needs a Japan quote. I know why, theoretically, but "Say, did you see the soccer game? Can you sum up how Japan feels about winning? Is it a sign that the country is turning the corner and finding something to be proud in again?" at 4 AM always strikes me as funny.
I suppose if I cared to keep getting called at 4 AM I should give her the story she so transparently wants to write...
Hopefully an email from a direction connection on Facebook or LinkedIn would annoy a journalist less than a cold Facebook or LinkedIn message from you. (re: Mystallic's comment)
Honestly it's hard to get attention when you are small, without major funding or in the right network circles. But we have pushed on and with each major update we get a little more traction with coverage and learn from our efforts. Our users love us but convincing the filters that be that we are worth their 500 words is a challenge that we underestimated. Thanks for your post, there are some good points in there and has provoked some interested responses.
After that the bloggers started coming to us.
People also did seem to like our video as an 'outrageous' pitch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACh-FqQqU4Q
1. You need to have a story to tell. Don't worry if its not too dramatic, but you need to add that human element.
2. Catchy Subject lines: I remember a mail which had the subject "Two 17 year olds create the first RSS based social networking site". Could never ignore that.
3. Resources: Please provide us with relevant resources like a logo, a screenshot and a press release(if any).
4. About your company: Please tell us a bit about your company, who the founders are, investments made and any
5. Do not spam: Do not send more than three mails asking us to feature you. That is frowned upon.
Thinking about Moore's Chasam, doesn't coverage in a major tech blog encourage more early adopters that will consume the few startup resources you have before they move on to the next startup covered?
Is coverage worth it? Do a shockingly strong percentage of early adopters reliably become paying customers or engaged users?
I know the answer to this will be subjective, but in my mind, this is why I've never pushed for coverage in major tech blogs. If they pick something up on their own, that's fine... but I've never been sure if the effort is worth the cost and reward.
To me, being featured in a publication like TechCrunch would only be exciting because of the traffic. Too many people see it as validation for their product/service when it's anything but.
And in the end the coverage has helped us become a better company. We have many many more users now than we did before the feature, and the exposure helped us gain quite a few "champion" users whose feedback has been invaluable to us as our product evolves.
Key thing for us was to make sure it was stated explicitly that we were pretty brand new. Huge props to Jolie O'Dell for working with us on that. We got a lot of new users from the article and for the most part they've been patient with us as we improve. And best of all we've started relationships with tech press that will hopefully help us out when we release super awesome feature x, y, and z.
My two cents...
In short: promote yourself.
Including writing stories about how you promoted yourself. Well done sir.
My mum used to raise money as her profession, I've seen how effective it is to work the phones for publicity.
The downside is that without being careful you can come to be seen as a user. I see this mostly with people who get sucked into Amway or some other such can't-legally-refer-to-it-as-a-pyramid-scheme.
I wonder if the startup economy has sprouted any fixers yet -- those infinitely connected people everyone goes through because everyone goes through them.
Too little contrast. Didn't read.