Growth

How to pitch the startup to the journalists

How to get your news published in the English-speaking media is explained by a journalist Andrii Degeler. Andrii writes about Eastern European startups for The Next Web and Ars Technica UK, he works as Community Growth Manager at Rockstart Accelerator, is an author of the tech newsletter ProCEEd, he also consults the startups on choosing a media strategy.

The stats of tech news publishing in different media

During 1,5 years of managing ProCEEd newsletter, I have collected over 2 thousand links for the news about Eastern European startups, around 1400 of them are in English. Using the data I have, I prepared a summary analysis to introduce you to the tech mass media market.  

The whole segment of tech media can be divided into the niche publishers (dedicated to a particular region or a specific industry) and the mainstream ones (the global coverage). The ratio is 74.2% and 25.8% respectively.

names of niches and mainstream media

The startups from Eastern Europe are not fully covered in these media. If we analyse the coverage by countries, the majority of the news published are from Russia (41.8%). The next ones far behind are Ukraine (14.5%), Poland (10.1%) and Estonia (6.7%).

statistics in tech media

The reason for such a big percentage of Russian news is a frequently changing law, which regulates the access to the internet and the freedom of speech. Estonia also generates government-related news such as introducing the e-citizenship.

To understand the scope of the topics, let’s see what interests the journalists from the two types of media:

The topics of IT articles in in different types of media

We can see that the publishers agree on the first point. They are mostly interested in expert articles and reviews, which don’t necessarily have a particular news trigger (e.g. feature stories, long reads, reviews). Then we start seeing a mismatch. The niche media prefer articles about startups, whilst the mainstream ones have little interest in those. They will rather get hooked on the stories of the venture capital deals over $1-5 million and the state-level initiatives.

How to pitch the startup to the journalists: step-by-step media strategy

When consulting the startups, I suggest them to work with media based on the data analysis. Your goal within this approach is to define the publishers or the journalists, who will be more likely to respond to your stories and to have an interest in telling them to their readers.

So let’s understand where to start.

To build a proper media strategy, I suggest taking the following steps:

  • Define the goals you are pursuing, and the result you would like to get from the publication (to attract the users/employees, to find new partners/investments, etc.). By specifying the goals you will be able to understand your target audience.
  • Analyse the interests of your target readers and try to generate relevant news.
  • Prepare the company profiles in social networks, remove all the unnecessary. Check which information journalists will get once they look up you or your company via the search engines.

You are ready to pitch, what’s left is to define what exactly.

Try to offer the journalists:

  • the story of the company if it was anyhow unusual,
  • your expertise in the industry (here you will need to talk not only about your business but also about other companies on the market),
  • the unique data, that can help you to stand out (for instance, PornHub posted the viewing stats across different countries, which went viral on the media, as it was actually interesting),
  • releases under embargo (news about the company, which can be published only after a certain date. Make sure you get the confirmation that the journalist agrees to the terms of the embargo)
  • exclusive material (embargo, which is given to only one publisher. In this case, if you have the news about investments, I would recommend to give it exclusively to TechCrunch).

The tools to search for the publishers for pitching:

  • RSS
  • Index.co and the CrunchBase

Large databases of startups. With their help, one can analyse who wrote about which companies. It allows to understand which media and journalists are interested in your particular topic as well as in the related ones.

  • Google News
  • Techmeme

This one is a little “US-focused” technical news aggregator. They work with the publishers, which are the first to cover the topic in the most comprehensive and detailed way. The first 50 names from the Techmeme list make up an excellent database of the media, which are worth to send the pitch to.

The tools to search for the publishers for pitching

  • Platforms for contributors (TechCrunch, Engadget, Forbes and the majority of the niche media are the ones to have them).

On these platforms, you can post the news about your company yourself. One of the easiest options is Crunch Network. The texts that pass the moderation stage get onto the main page of TechCrunch. On the platform Engadget Public Access the articles do not get to the main page, however, this particular website has quite an interesting audience, worth working with. For Forbes magazine, you need to work on a series of texts with your CEO and then suggest this person as a contributor to the publisher.

According to the study of Muck Rack: pitch taboos and to-dos

I took the data from one interesting research conducted by Muck Rack team. This platform offers an automated journalists search for $5,000 per month. They went through their database and asked media workers what are the best ways to send them the pitch.

  • Send the pitch in the morning, either before 9 am, or from 9 to 11 am.

Don’t forget that there are time zones and note that the rule doesn’t work for Mondays. Monday mail gets to the bunch of mail from the weekend. All of it in the best case scenario is looked through very briefly.Send the pitch in the morning, either before 9 am, or from 9 to 11 am

  • Don’t write via social networks, contact journalists via email.

Don’t be worried that you won’t get a reply. The majority of journalists respond to the pitch even if they are not acquainted with the sender. Journalists don’t mind if you follow up with a second email 5-7 days later in case you haven’t got a reply. But please don’t contact them via social networks.

Don’t write via social networks, contact journalists via email

  • A perfect length for the first email is 2-3 sentences, with the total length of 1 paragraph.

Be mindful that your email may be read on the phone. Go straight to the point, if you have any additional information — include the links (for the photos, videos, presentations, etc.). It’s better to avoid attaching big files to the email.

A perfect length for the first email is 2-3 sentences

I'd add that mass emails, or sending out your press release to a large database of journalists is never a good idea. Such emails are going straight into the trash bin. Personalise your message as much as possible, communicate with the individual, not with a journalist. In most cases, it even makes sense to meet up in person.

Preview photo: MSSA / depositphotos.com

Header photo: dotsent / depositphotos.com

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