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Show HN: JustReachOut – Forget PR Firms, a tool to pitch reporters yourself (justreachout.io)
58 points by dmitrydragilev on April 16, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 70 comments

I like the concept. I and my team have probably reached out to tens of thousands of reporters and have seen hundreds (maybe thousands) of write-ups written, so I would like to think I have some experience in this (though I'm not a PR firm).

A few months ago I wrote "the hacker's guide to getting press" (http://www.austenallred.com/the-hackers-guide-to-getting-pre...) that distills the basic strategy and how someone could hack a solution together for free. Granted, it's nowhere near as elegant or simple as yours.

My concerns: 1. I'm not sure your questions are driven enough to create a short enough pitch. I tried it, and my pitch was 3-4 paragraphs long (2-3 paragraphs too long)

2. I know you think your pricing is fair, but you need a cheaper option for the lowest tier. Most of the people I talk to and work with are happy to shell out a bit, but $50/month is too steep. I would say $30/month is the right target, and that's month to month.

3. I got 10 results; trying through a Buzzstream scrape or a Google News scrape I'm getting hundreds. Part of the value is in quantity; I need to make sure that it is there. Are you only showing contact information if you can find it? What if you can't find it programmatically and I'm supposed to go out and find it on my own? I guess the question deals with the method, since this is one of the most difficult parts of reaching out to reporters.

> I and my team have probably reached out to tens of thousands of reporters

If you said you put together a list of emails 10k in number I'd believe you, though I'd say a lot of those emails are worthless. I was a PR firm, or at least a founding partner in one, and those kinds of numbers aren't realistic if you're talking about having a valid, active contact and actually having some meaningful interaction with that journalist. PR, or at least PR done by professionals, is always quality over quantity.

The kind of PR you're talking about is what's provided by sites like prweb, which is just north of worthless unless your sole metric is the number of places that have re-printed your press release.

Most programmers here (myself included, I changed careers) would, I imagine, cringe if the marketing guy said he was going to do some of the coding. There's a reason programming is a profession and people who know what they're doing get paid well. Same goes for PR. You probably can build that iPhone app yourself, but you probably shouldn't. Leave PR to the people who do it for a living.

Having said that, most small companies shouldn't bother with PR. Small companies should focus on sales. I say this from experience having built companies and having done PR for companies from the largest (major airlines, telecom companies, hotel chains) to the smallest local businesses. Put another way, when we launched our PR agency we didn't PR ourselves -- well once, and it was a complete waste of time.

A mention somewhere might be neat but it's nearly worthless for a new company. If you don't believe me dig up the research on how valuable that mention in TC actually is.

When journalists start coming to you, hire a PR person.

You took a single line from what I said and completely misconstrued what I and my team [used to] do, making a wide variety of incorrect assumptions along the way.

There were a half dozen of us at working for dozens of clients for a few years. Some targeted mommy bloggers, others bigger tech publications, and of course we have great relationships with many major journalists. But when we didn't, we would email. And our hit rate wasn't incredible, but saying that the other emails were worthless is simply not true. Those emails resulted in millions of dollars of sales.

If "PR" means "getting a write-up in the New York Times" then sure, most small companies shouldn't worry about it. But for most of the companies we work with more write-ups in smaller blogs and the occasional TechCrunch writeup means more sales; it was a direct, causal relationship that worked (and works) wonders.

"Having said that, most small companies shouldn't bother with PR."

Yep, at least not the typical definition of "PR". Expand that to industry blogs about your niche though, and you might want to put some investment into that type of PR.

I totally agree. Actually it would probably be better if small companies, especially small startups, would think about this activity as "Attention" rather than "PR" or "Marketing". What you want when you're a small startup is the right kind of attention from the right people at the right time.

Really appreciate you taking the time to leave detailed feedback. I read your post, actually emailed you about it, really liked your approach. Let me try to address your concerns:

1. Your concern that the questions do not produce a short enough pitch: We try to ask as many questions as we can to help people think through why they are reaching out to this reporter and what specifically about this reporter makes them interested/relevant to what is being pitched. The final draft is not set in stone, people can edit that draft and change it any way they'd like.

2. Pricing - all plans come with a 14 day free trial. So anybody can try this for 14 days and see if it's valuable enough for them to keep using. Would love to have you and other just try for free and see. If pricing is really too steep, we can think about making this change.

3. You got 10 results - so we are trying to do only very recent articles, we are not looking at old articles since in some cases the reporter is not interested in topics they wrote about a year ago.

4. Email address - we have a LOT of work we have put into the app to make sure we get you the email address. We are shooting to do this for 100% of reporters. That said - we are in private beta, limiting to just 10 people right now and testing to make sure this is the case.

Shoot us a note through contact page, would love to chat further.

In "You are reaching out to Reporter at XXX..Over a story titled.." screen, the screen keeps moving back to the top blocking me from entering any information in fields below. Won't even let me scroll down from second time onwards.

That's because you have to enter information in there... we do not want you to go on without entering something in that screen. Reason being is because formulating the pitch is a vital part of the process..

To me, this was annoying. I was interested in "trying" the product, i.e. seeing what kind of questions I would have to answer. You should just highlight empty, required fields when the user hits submit.

Got ya... will make that look more elegant. Going to make changes now. For now type in something in there and hit next if you'd like to see what's next...

Please pardon if this is a stupid question/comment as I'm not a PR professional:

My first reaction to searching a phrase for my industry was "great!" -- I found 5 articles written by reporters over the past few months.

My second reaction was "Wait -- these are stories they just wrote. If I reach out to them, their response is going to be 'Thanks - but would have been great to know about you before I wrote the story!'"

One of the things our PR firm did very well was have a connection to reporters so that they knew about us before the story got written.

If the story's already done, unless they have a beat on the same topic, then isn't it already too late?

If they wrote about the topic once its probably because either they're interested or their editor thinks readers are interested. It's highly likely they will write on the topic again.

Introduce yourself and tell them briefly what you're doing. Then do quick checkins with them every ninety days or so. When they write the follow up story it's highly likely they will reach out to you. You will probably accomplish more than you could with a limited PR budget.

Sure. The idea is that you will reach out to them about similar articles to your topic but not exactly about you, you will spark their interest. They might not write about you right away but you will develop a relationship with them.

You will be creating connections of reporters instead of your PR firm, and you will maintain those connections.

Shoot us a note through contact link, be happy to explain more.

The implication is that if they've written about it once, they may write about it again. However, as you point out, a personal connection goes a long, long way. The personal connection lets you know whether the writer wrote about it once because nobody else was covering or if it's a topic they're looking to dive into and cover more.

You're right. In my research I've talked to dozens of reporters and they all told me they are less likely to right about a competitive product soon after the original piece. Reporters gets dozens of "me too" pitches after every article they publish.

So this is the same price as PressFriendly, but without the PR professional to help me review the story? Do you guys have any PR folks on staff?

I think all of these services that make PR easier are great, but I'm not sure that I see the value here over your competition.

Co-founder of PressFriendly here.

As much I think having a PR pro help you with your pitch is important, I think our machine learning differentiates us from this site and other list-building hacks.

We use machine learning to create custom media lists by comparing the pitch to reporter archives and what they've written over the last 6 months. Everyone else uses simple keyword matching.

try it and you'll see. its free for 14 days. i can answer questions you have, done this for 7 years.

so you cannot articulate your differences from your competition? I'm genuinely curious to hear how you are different from existing options I have.

the way we work is very different, but the end result is the same. We focus on relevant timely trending stories reporters are writing on the topic you might have interesting facts about. We help you connect with these reporters over the timely article they wrote. We also help you think though your pitch and give you the contact information to reach out. We make sure it's a very relevant fit for both your pitch and the reporter's interests.

I'm not familiar with PressFriendly, but it looks like they look through entire archives of what reporters have written and curate lists of reporters based on their past articles and their fit with your topic. Again, I'm not 100% sure.

Two different approaches, both helping people with the same issue. I think it's great to see companies such as PressFriendly around. There should be more of them around, this is a painful problem for companies and PR Firms is a bad solution.

The hiding of the reporter's email doesn't really work/is broken, since if you fill in data for the fields on the page, and then hit 'send' it takes you to your email client with the reporters email in the 'To' field.

Someone could just as easily fill the fields with junk just to get at reporters emails', I suggest implementing a character counter for the fields at the least to ensure content is being entered and not junk/useless data.

Sounds like you're not signed up, so you'll never see reporter's email address. Once you properly register and sign up you'll see their email address.

But good suggestion, will give that a try.

It's a neat tool ! But the pricing is a bit steep. Considering that for a bootstrapped startup the alternative is free (google and some rapportive hacking). maybe a plan with a limited quantity of "reachouts"?

There is a 14 day free trial. Try it, I bet you'll see the value. The problem with google/rapportive hacking is that it does not work all the time to get the correct contact information. Also a major part of reaching out is composing an email which will get opened and is tailored to each reporter. Our tool helps you do that.

Try it for 14 days. Would be happy to hear your feedback.

I suspect you're getting a lot of traffic. it's going on 3 minutes for load. I've tried both chrome and firefox on os x on a high speed connection.

Hmm, that's odd. We are using a lot of APIs. Tell me what is taking a long time specifically?

It appears the next beer is on you: http://imgur.com/YcqwAI1

Crossed the 60 second mark just now.

Crap, never seen it take that long. Really 60 sec? You have good internet connection?

Where are you at? Send a note through contact form. Will do my best to send a beer your way.

Haha, definitely don't need a beer, but appreciate that follow through. Maybe my interests are too niche and it couldn't find results w/in the last 24hrs? I'll try a couple more times, then hit the contact form with whatever info I can offer.

EDIT: Just tried that search and a few others and all returned quite quickly. My initial search actually just hung forever, so I eventually closed the tab. Not sure how to reproduce, but hopefully just a fluke? I know no Dev ever wants to chalk something up to a fluke though...

Always open for suggestions and feedback. Hit the contact email link. Curious to hear your feedback.

Will do.

My request has been stuck for like half an hour.

(edit, I re-tried and it was fast, I guess site was HN'ed)

hit the contact link, shoot me a note, would love to hear your feedback.

Can you try again?

Nice, the scrolling back up is annoying.

I use this: http://press.customerdevlabs.com/

So we want you to fill in answers to all those questions, it's crucial for us to help you formulate a good looking email pitch. That is why we don't want you to go on. Will work on a better solution for this so it's not that annoying.

Mturk is great, but takes too long..

I entered a keyword, and only got 5 results, but I know for a fact there's at least 100+ articles written about that keyword in the past 3 months alone.

Also, you don't need the form for asking ppl questions and formulating the email. That's the EASY part.. the hard part is automating the process of finding the journalists, and getting their emails. Just show me that list, and let me export via Excel. That's all. Everything else is plain overkill and dilutes your value proposition.

That is exactly what we are trying to avoid. We do not want you to spam 1000 reporters at once with a generic email. We want you to formulate very highly tailored emails to very relevant reporters. That is why we are look at articles from just last 24 hours. We are still improving the news search results.

Again - 14 day free trial with all the plans, and we just launched private beta, so not much to loose here.

Yes, I am able to formulate highly tailored emails, I don't need help on that. I need help on actually finding those reporters, and their emails. Right now, I can easily duplicate your service, by doing a Google News search and manually finding the contact info for each of them.

It takes much more effort and time if you do it on your own, but agree it's doable in theory. In practice, takes too much time vs. JRO. Our service helps people find relevant reporters, tailor their pitches and make sure they are truly relevant, and then it gives you the contact information for the reporters.

We want to make sure you are reaching out to highly relevant reporters with tailored pitches.

Nope, that's a lie. Even with a broad topic like paleo, there's only a handful of very influential reporters that write about that in the past 24 hours. No need to lie!

Not lying. Formulating a highly tailored email to the reporter's interests and getting up to date verifiable contact information for every reporter who wrote about "Paleo" will take you MUCH more time and effort if you do it on your own vs clicking a button and using a tool for it. We made this tool because I myself do this every day. It's doable, but it will take more time.

> That is why we are look at articles from just last 24 hours.

This makes no sense. How does this not yield basically a random pick and dismiss most relevant but less active journalists?

We are looking for the best most relevant articles from the last 24 hours, so most timely and most relevant on the given topic. Agree with you that beefing up a search would be nice, working on that now. This is a private beta limited to 10 people. Will make it better before we let more in.

I don't see how pitching somebody 24 hours after they covered a topic makes sense. They are not very likely to write about the same topic again at least for a while. And by the time they do won't my pitch be long forgotten?

Would you need this monthly? What about a pay per use, and you could say sell bundles of emails, like reach 10, 25, 50 reporters?

we are not selling emails here, we are trying to have you reach out with very tailored highly relevant emails to relevant reporters, Think quiality vs quantity. Its free for 14 days, so give it a try, nothing to loose.

You guys are going to owe a lot of folks beers... every search I'm doing doesn't complete after over a minute.

sorry for the delays, lots of traffic coming in, ping us, we'll send you beer: hi@justreachout.io

2+ minutes and yet to see any results. I think that means you owe me a beer... :)

N.B. I searched for "travel"

We are having some issues, overwhelmed with traffic at the moment. Shoot us an email through contact form? Will notify you when we're back up and send you a beer.

Beer timeout here as well. I only accept beer in person, however. Give me a shout when you are in SF, and best of luck!

will send you beer. Ping us: hi@justreachout.io

Haha it's ok :) Scaling is hard, I forgive you!

If contact form is not working for you, try: hi@justreachout.io

Do you guarantee reply from reporters? What's included in the price?

No gurantee of reply. You do all the reaching yourself. We help you find a relevant story, relevant reporter, create tailored pitch, and then we give you the email address.

How is this different from just searching the news with your favorite search engine?

We help you construct your email pitch and give you the contact information to reach out to the reporters. We make sure your pitch is a very relevant fit to the reporter's interests.

I claim my free beer. Or at least I would if the contact form worked.

Weird, which browser are you on? Just ping at hi@justreachout.io if contact form is giving you trouble for some reason.

how it works? We don't mind to pay for the package but too sure how it works? if you have instructions, please send us email to info@pesome.com

It's pretty easy. You search for a story, you answer questions to formulte your pitch, the tool creates a tailored email draft for you and gives you their email address.

14 day free trial.

You owe me a lot of beer!

we sure do. ping us through contact form with deets, will send beer!

Would love to hear any feedback you have.

Great tool, we will try to get more buzz for www.pesome.com

Would love to hear your feedback.

the logo looks like a zombie hands trying to grab me

i know, you scared? wakes you up a little doesn't it? :)

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