In a world where there’s so many ways to communicate, it’s hard to rise to the top and get the attention your startup deserves. Knowing the right channel, best writer, and best angle are your sure fit ways to be seen and highlighted. Many writers want to cover your company or hear an interesting story but with tight deadlines and a flood of pitches in their inbox there is only one solid piece of advice to get that pitch heard: make the story easy.
1. Have an Engaging Subject Line
Having a long subject line with the name of your product, date, company name, partner company name, and one buzzword isn’t going to cut it. Make your subject line your ideal title of the dream article you would want written. Get the author thinking about “what is being said” and what the real piece is. Do you have crazy new user growth? Say it in the subject line. Did your CEO climb a tall mountain in support of a dare or organization? Say the founder and the company but don’t assume everyone knows the founder’s name. Founders love having their name in subject lines but unless they have close to 10,000 followers on Twitter, the odds that the journalist knows who they are are slim. Try to use words that are interesting and stay away from some overused words. (Also see, Hidden Resource That May Help Get Your Startup in the Spotlight)
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Don’t think the subject line matters? Read tips from a reporter or email marketing tips for startups. Bottomline is if your email doesn’t get open, it doesn’t get read. Make the receiver WANT to open the email, if for nothing else than entertainment and try not to bombard publications like TechCrunch before it’s too soon (see Why TechCrunch Won’t Make You Money). Also figure out if you want an exclusive or general release.
2. Include Bullets Points of WHY the Writer Should Care
It might be recent funding news, an oddball fact about the founder, or how many users the app now has, if you give statistics and something that can be easily digested the writer is more likely to pick up the story or include your pitch in another story. But you have great quotes from the CEOs? So do all the other pitches. Focus on images and facts, not long winded sentences of the past. The future of web is visual, give the writer a visual.
3. Keep it Tight – Journalists Are Busy
Short and sweet: tell the writer how your story is ready and compelling now, meaning connect what you are saying into recent news or how it relates to current trends. Also find recent articles that are similar and link to them. Often if the writer can see what you are expecting (without you demanding it) they will be compelled to write it. With a little inspiration, a good fact, and a potential title (your subject line) the writer has almost everything they need, now they just need to write it!
Some other quick tips:
Understand that because a journalist is busy and has limited time, the math equation is simple: the less time they spend reading your pitch the more time they could be writing about it! The general rule of thumb is less is more, read Eventbrite’s take on it but be prepared; emails get quickly deleted so your time is limited to the first few lines of engagement. If you really want to improve or if your pitch doesn’t get covered, feel free to re-email the writer. Don’t ask if they have seen the email but instead say, “what do you think about this” or “how could I make this compelling?” Writers know it’s their job to spread information and therefore they need to be getting pitches and information, so don’t feel bad for bombarding them but understand how they work. Often writers, even experienced or junior ones, will email back a few lines of feedback as to why your story couldn’t be covered. Adjust your pitch and either email a response or change your next set of emails. Most importantly be patient, don’t hate the player, hate the game.
Got your own secret to the perfect pitch? We’d love to hear it in the comments below!