It can be hard for an early-stage startup to get featured in tech news. But if hiring a PR consultant or agency will make a hole in the budget, what options do they have?
Let’s dive into these PR tools and techniques which are used by PR professionals, so you can better understand the public relations process and get your startup noticed by the media. Especially since the beginning of the year is considered to be a slow season, there might be a spot on the news agenda for your startup.
When you email journalists, this means you are pitching your startup or product to them. Basically, this is the process of selling your startup idea to a reporter who, in turn, wants to write an interesting story for their readers and get a lot of views.
This is what you need to keep in mind when writing your pitch–it should be a solid basis for a compelling story about a problem and how it is solved by technology. You need to prove your point and provide evidence in no longer than three (short) paragraphs.
Tools for writing a good pitch:
Once your pitch is ready, you need to identify the best media contact and find their emails. I’m saying emails deliberately. Please do not pitch on Instagram, call out of the blue and add on Facebook. This might be considered harassment, and you could end up blacklisted.
Tips for finding a journalist and their email:
• You can Google what was recently in the news about the problem you are solving, and see the authors who covered the topic. Next, their contacts could be just there on the publication’s website, or try their Twitter bio.
• I’d suggest using mail tracking clients such as Polymail. It will cost $13 per month, but you will see who opens your pitch multiple times and clicks on the links. Don’t overuse it! It is unethical to chase people based on your perception of what they are interested in.
Sometimes (mostly all the time), startups’ news and milestones get no traction when journalists from TechCrunch have stories about new unicorns, the launch of a new Metaverse, and another Elon’s tweet crashing Tesla’s stock. In that case, there is only one option that could help you to get through the buzz.
Tips for getting notice no matter what:
• HARO is a well-known tool that is used by journalists to get quotes and insights from sources. While there might be a lot of irrelevant to your business requests, sometimes you can find a hidden gem–a request from a top-tier tech publication regarding your industry. This doesn’t mean you will be noticed in the piece, but replying to the request will maximize your chances. At least, will put you on the so-called PR sources list of a reporter.
• Again Twitter: you can create a search results column on a Tweetdeck, put #journorequest and your keywords (e.g. #edtech, #AI).
• Find an article relevant to your business and write commentary feedback. You can kindly pitch your startup or your story there, showing respect and your interest in the reporter’s work–not just selling your idea.
• Sometimes you can pitch to the wrong journalist. A typical newsroom is represented by editors, assistants, sub-editors, reporters, news reporters, columnists, and many others. As mentioned earlier, the PR Guy platform described what titles mean and to whom you should pitch–you can read it here. If you think you picked the best matching contact but still have no reaction after a kind follow-up, this could mean you are targeting the wrong publication. Try your local newspaper or a trade magazine.
These are basic tools and techniques we, PR people, use on a daily basis. While this could sound easy, it is still pretty much a full-time job. So, if you are short on money, pick 5-10 journalists and pitch them using the tips and tools above.