We invited Cathy Summers from SHIFT Communications and a panel of tech reporters - Josh Constine from TechCrunch, Kia Kokalitcheva from VentureBeat and James Robinson from PandoDaily - for an interactive discussion around tech reporting and how startup teams can best approach reporters to share their news.
Here are some of the key insights from the evening's panel discussion:
Contacting a reporter
- Is your story newsworthy? While we understand that to you, your new client, feature or upgrade is a huge deal, it is not necessarily newsworthy (unless you happened to create a huge new product in partnership with Google, or maybe build a green car even better than Tesla's!). Use this litmus test: would a stranger care about your news?
- If not, can you relate it to something trending in the media right now? This can be just what a reporter needs to make it relevant to his or her audience.
- Contact the appropriate person. Don't pitch your story to a reporter who doesn't cover your industry. It sounds obvious, but it's easy to forget when need PR and you need it now.
- Keep your email pitch short and sweet. Explain what you do, what your big news is, and don't try to be mysterious. Give them what they need to understand the story you're pitching and keep it to a few lines. If reporters need to keep scrolling to get all the details, your email is too long.
- Offer to buy lunch. Don't forget that reporters are people too, and people need to eat! Offering lunch can at the very least help you begin to build rapport, our next topic.
- Use exclusives to form bonds with journalists. Give them the chance to take their time researching your story rather than rushing to be the first to break the news, and you could have made a friend to break your future stories.
- Position yourself as an industry expert. Give reporters your insights on a current trend you're knowledgeable about, build some rapport, and you will already be in their repertoire (and in their good graces) when they write a story in your space.
- Respect their time off. Running a startup is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job, but don't pitch reporters over the weekend or holidays.
The best way to reach reporters: Twitter!
- Not convinced? Our panel of reporters admitted they generally don't read the comments on their articles, but they check Twitter several times a day.
- Start a conversation. Twitter is your number one tool for contacting reporters and forming a relationship. Follow them, retweet their posts and comment reply with thoughtful remarks to grab their attention.
- Get to know them. Twitter is also an irreplaceable resource for getting to know reporters on a personal level. Go through reporters' Twitter feeds to find out what they are passionate about and leverage that in your interactions.
Want even more startup PR tips?
Check out our Guide to Getting Media Coverage for Your Startup.