How do I get coverage in TechCrunch, the Wall Street Journal and other tech publications?”
I literally get that question every week from founders of tech startups. They know that publicity—especially from credible, respected publications—has the potential to boost company recognition. That could lead to new customers. More funding. Candidate recruitment. Higher company morale. Strategic partnerships.
Many other good things can come from great press coverage that is widely read and shared.
However, getting coverage in mainstream news outlets isn’t as easy as some may think. It’s more than just sending a pitch email to a reporter. Here are some things to consider before you kick off your PR program:
Know your goals.
What are your goals?
Do you want more visitors to your website, to raise your personal or company profile, or attract new customers and investors? Figure this out. That way, you can build a compelling pitch that is targeted to a specific publication and journalist who might actually write about your startup.
Have something tangible to pitch.
Great ideas abound. Tech celebrities such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Larry Page can always rely on getting press attention because they are icons. They’ve built hugely successful enterprises and their companies are market makers.
If you’re a startup, you likely can’t—or expect to—compete. Companies such as Facebook and Google are in the enviable position of having reporters assigned to them via “beats.” The PR teams at these companies serve more as gatekeepers, managing incoming requests from publications for interviews and comments.
There are no shortcuts.
If you’re a startup with an unknown team, you have to be scrappy, persistent and creative to get attention. Just pitching a meet-and-greet “executive interview” won’t work.
One PR practitioner I know asked me for a “warm introduction” email to my reporter contacts with the belief that if I just introduced her, the reporter would take a meeting. In the highly competitive world of tech PR, no one takes a meeting unless you have significant news, or you’re providing access to an in-demand spokesperson.
If you work for a startup, you must intelligently target each and every reporter with a story that will interest them. You have to read their past coverage and understand what story angles might resonate.
It’s a creative endeavor that takes intellectual effort. There are no shortcuts. Having a package of assets to draw from is key: a real product, differentiated messaging, happy customers, top-tier investors, strategic partnerships and a pipeline of news.
Don’t underestimate the challenge.
Getting coverage is hard. In a BuzzSumo blog post, journalists from TechCrunch, The New York Times, Mashable, Fast Company and other publications said they receive 25 to 100 pitches a day. The vast majority of those pitches fail.
A survey conducted by Greentarget found that 70 percent of journalists say they spend less than a minute scanning the 50 press releases they receive on average per week.
There are also fewer and fewer journalists to pitch. The number of newsroom reporters of daily newspapers has declined by nearly 50 percent since 1990, according to one study. Even digital journalism job opportunities appear to have plateaued since 2015, according to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review.
In a blog lamenting the loss of journalists, Marc Wilson, general manager of TownNews.com, wrote, "Technology allows news to be parsed, pasted, posted, redistributed, crawled, commented upon, contributed, analyzed, tweeted, Skyped, aggregated, syndicated, forwarded, indexed, spidered, Googled and in other ways recycled. . . . Still, at the root . . . there has to be some actual news."