We’re often asked whether we use ‘PR software’ or wire services to help get media attention for the startups we represent.
And while I often stop and wonder whether or not we should consider buying-in to a fancy solution – I always circle back to a firm no. The simple truth is, I believe that each media interaction should be a personalized one. Until Google calls looking for our services, no generic media blast or wire service is going to do the job of individually introducing the unique and exciting value that the kind of high growth startups we represent is bringing to the world.
That’s not to say we rely on email or phone (Skype) calls alone – we do take full advantage of some great tools and technology – but each one of them brings a little something different to the table.
Here are some of our favorite tools (some obvious, and others not-so-obvious) for managing the Startup PR pitch process and workflow.
1. Rapportive – for getting email addresses right and connecting the dots via social.
I honestly don’t know where my life was until I discovered Rapportive. This free and super simple to install plugin for gmail confirms automatically associate’s social media accounts with valid email addresses. This is great for two main reasons: (1) If you’re trying to uncover someone’s primary email address using guesswork; linked social credentials will verify you’re on the right track. (2) If you’re looking to make timely outreach – thanks to the social integration – you can quickly follow on twitter, connect via LinkedIn, and find out when they were last active on either.
2. Twitter (Lists & Engagement) – for timing your outreach and understanding interests.
It seems a bit obvious to include Twitter on this list but it’s perhaps not as obvious to consider treating Twitter as a way of perfecting the timing of media outreach. Many journalists take to the social media tool to comment on the days news, and as a result those conversations give cues into their attentiveness level at any given moment. Every now and again you might even get lucky enough to catch them at a time they’re looking for something to write about.
3. Google Docs – for keeping track of every person (and every angle) you’re pitching.
It doesn’t take a fancy tool (just a great process) to keep things organized when coordinating media outreach. I’ve found the simplest method of keeping tabs on work-in-progress is a simple Google spreadsheet – accessible to other team members who may be collaborating with you or just curious about outreach. I always say that less is more. Create a system of keeping track that works for you and stick to it. For us, there’s only about 6 or 8 columns: Media Outlet, Journalist Name, Journalist Beat (interests), Angle we’re pitching, Journalist’s Email, Journalist Social Media accounts, Status of Outreach and Notes.
4. Dropbox – for creating custom Media Kits and making sharing easy.
If you manage to get the attention of a journalist, chances are they are going to want more information (a media kit) to help them decide whether they want to cover the story. As long as I’ve prepared adequately beforehand – I can get a personalized Dropbox set up with screenshots, media release and some appropriate statistics or background information pulled together for a journalist in no time. By personalizing those assets and providing them quickly you’ll increase your chances of not only getting coverage – but also making sure the journalist has everything they need to put together a detailed story.
5. HARO – for the odd chance someones looking to pick up what you’re putting down.
Sometimes it’s just makes sense to fish where the fish are. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) was designed to connect journalists with sources of information. Sometimes a reporter might be looking for industry-specific data or information, while other times he or she may be looking for a relevant spokesperson, quote or case study. In either case – subscribe to HARO’s daily digest emails for your chance to weigh in on hot topics and increase your likelihood of securing coverage while helping a reporter out.
BONUS: Contactzilla* – for keeping track of media contacts and helping keep everyone in the know.
Making contacts is hard, but keeping track of them for some reason seems to always be even harder. That’s why when I first heard of Contactzilla, I was immediately intrigued at how it might be able to help both (1) keep me organized and on top of all of my contacts while (2) also looping in Crystal who works with me full time in the PR space. Contactzilla is a cloud-based contact management system that allows us to collaborate and share contacts, while simultaneously enabling us to keep notes on the status of outreach. (Currently in Free Beta.)
*We liked these guys so much we reached out and ultimately landed them as clients – so consider this your disclaimer of our (slight) bias. ;)
SO: Which awesome tools have I left out? Disagree with me on these free / basic ways to get PR?
AND: Which paid tools should I be checking out? We’re always happy to give them a try and report back.