I think our preoccupation with a huge launch owes more to its sexiness than to its practical importance for a startup. You may catch lightning in a bottle with a launch that's met with a ton of fanfare. But you can also build an enduring success by focusing your time and energy on sale #1, then #2, and so on.
Your odds are long one way or the next (and granted things change when you need to observe network effects to succeed) but it seems it's almost always the better shot to build fast, iterate faster, and lean into whatever success you find along the way.
To which I'll add: expecting to do a huge launch means you will have to be "perfect" in order to catch this theoretical wave of attention: cuz you will just have that one chance! Which leads to much longer cycles, and a hesitancy to ship, because what if things aren't perfect?
That's essentially "Big Upfront Marketing," or BUM. You see where I'm going with this.
Also, take a look at the following two posts in which petercooper makes some great suggestions:
My current conversion rate (i.e. user signing up) is around 25% - I'm not sure if this is good/bad or even reflective of common conversion rates.
Perhaps you're right that it doesn't look professional enough for major blogs to cover.
What is involved in "approaching them as a company"?
If your site NEEDS users to get users, you need a soft launch where you do whatever you can to get users in and keep them, then you have a bigger launch where you can say "Look what we've done with only x users! This is going to be great!"
If your site doesn't need users, then grow organically, 5 or 10 at a time, and work towards an exponential curve.
(a) Working bugs out of the system
(b) Giving us an idea about what features people would actually used (and how)
(c) Allowing us to see what keywords converted best (useful in helping to drive future marketing)