It's not just about hacking the press. Sometimes it's plain just learning to interface with people and having a unique angle on a story.
Most press I've seen from friends being TC'ed is minimal. Unless your customers are people who read TC, the effect is minimal to converted customers. They had a ton of visitors which might have increased mindshare. TC can be a vanity metric if you're not careful, especially if TC's audience is not your paying customers. It helps be legit in having (some) press coverage, but it doesn't last if you can't back it up and delight people.
If you're doing what everyone else is doing to get coverage in the same places, the chances are greater you'll end up like everyone else (a startup that doesn't get where it needs to).
Focus on learning who your customers are, where they truly hang out, get their attention in those places, be it through story placement or advertising since not all sites use adsense, and some very successful sites have their own advertising engines.
Quality of eyeballs on your site is a far better metric to pursue than quantity.
Yes, I think most first-time entrepreneurs have a fantasy about how all they need to kickstart the viral growth is a bit of coverage in the major tech blogs. But the reality is that unless your site is squarely targeting early adopters (the ficklest of markets) and your product is knocking the socks of jaded San Francisco tech hipsters (well-nigh impossible against such perpetually-bored countenances), then this coverage is going to net you next to nothing.
In the reality you should take the time when your traffic is small to reach out to customers and get early feedback and polish the product as much as possible. The more work you put into based on real feedback from real users before the numbers get big, the greater the quality of the first impressions as your target audience trickles in.
Once your product is good enough, there are many ways to get users in. Press is one of them, but in my experience it comes on its own and is not worth putting much time in compared to more targeted user acquisition. In general, word of mouth will always always be the best, and that takes a great product.
Couldn't have said it any better. Being TC'ed is cool to put on your websites homepage (I know, we did ;)), but appart from having a huge spike in your Google Analytics dashboard, the direct results/conversions are minimal(especially for B2B products).
On the other end, it might get you a little extra cred to prove your rising traction.
Better to go for more specialized blogs, they are better for overall conversion.