The 6 Step Guide to Getting Free Press for Your Startup

August 12, 2014 - Get free updates of new posts here

To be honest, I wanted to not like the guest post you’ll read today.

“PR” can be terribly boring. Before I started reading it, I decided that I wasn’t going to share it.

But when I started reading, I kept reading.

Dmitry is an experienced PR marketer and OkDork reader. He runs JustReachout.io which provides 1 on 1 help for startups writing email pitches and finding most relevant reporters.

His post builds on many of the other posts we’ve featured this year.

You’ll learn:

* How to make sure people remember what it is your startup actually does

* Find the reporters that can actually help you (and you can, in turn, help them)

* Get featured on the sites you want for your business

Enjoy!

Noah

* * *

Every week I get at least two emails from startups asking me to help them “build buzz” around their product or service. Most of them want PR help but since it’s so prohibitively expensive to hire a PR firm startups are really struggling in this space. They want and need PR buzz but can’t afford expensive agencies. What to do?

For the past 8 years I’ve been doing my own PR without hiring anybody else to help me and it has worked beautifully for me. I have given a lot of talks on the topic, written guest articles about the general approach I take and recorded a short little course on Udemy about how I do my own PR. I’ve even helped Noah back when AppSumo was just starting out get some buzz to a deal we were running with them.

So I decided why not lay out a step by step how to guide of how to do PR for your startup without spending any money. Ready? Lets roll.

1. Perfect Your One Sentence Pitch

First step is to nail down your one sentence pitch. Be able to answer what you do in 1 sentence. Use this template below:

My Company  <name> is developing <offering> to help <target audience> <solve a problem> with <a secret sauce>.

courtesy of Adeo Ressi of Founder’s Institute. I’ve used this for years and years.

Plain and simple just fill in the blanks and keep all the jargon away. Make pure and simple. Let’s look at a few examples of a good one sentence pitch vs. bad one.

Good example #1 – Airbnb

Find a place to stay.

Good example #2  – Airto

Airto, is developing a web-based social seating check-in platform to help air travelers see who is on board their flight and use Facebook and LinkedIn to assign all flight seats with one click.

Bad Example #1 – I won’t name the company

We are a data integration social analytics company which helps you connect with your prospective leads, we use different data sources to aggregate data centrally and provide easy to read reports to personify each and every lead which comes to your site. 

Dang, that is a mouth full of a sentence and I still have no idea what these guys do. Seems like it’s a lead prospecting tool but again very hard to understand what this does and why people will use it.

Bad Example #2 – I won’t name the company

We are a web analytics platform designed to give you business intelligence to close your next deal. 

This is short and that’s good but it leaves me still deliberating what this thing does and who will use it for which purpose.

So nail this down and then practice your one sentence pitch with strangers, make sure your grandmother or mother understands your one sentence and you’re golden.

2. Make a Hit List of Most Relevant Reporters

Ok, now create a hit list of reporters you want to reach out to. You want to find reporters that are very much related to what your product/app/service does. In my case it’s PR. Here is how I do it. I go to Google News and type in “startup pr”.  I get the following back:

Result as First Hit List

I use the results as my first hit list, these are reporters or contributors to publications who have written about “PR tips for startups” which is exactly what my tool is all about. Chances are if I reach out to them to let them know about my tool they would find it interesting.

I copy the reporter name and link to the article into a spreadsheet and keep searching.

Now let’s say you can’t find good results on Google News for the keyword you enter. It might happen that there are not many recent news articles about your topic. In this case use regular Google search to do the same. Here is what I get back when I search for “PR tips for startups”:

PR Tips for Startups

Again I add the name of the reporter and a link to the article to my spreadsheet.

Now most of the time Google gives you a good hit list but sometimes you want more. In that case I like to Buzzsumo the sucker.

Buzzsumo is awesome sauce since it shows you the most shared articles on the topic so thats the best! Here I am checking out results for the same term “startup pr” and my hitlist of reporters to go after:

Buzzsumo PR Results

And here is my compiled spreadsheet of all the reporters I am going to go after, I have 21 reporters here, this is a working list of course.

My job is to find 5-10 new reporters a day and add them in here. Sometimes I start googling a competitor in my space “tool for PR” or actual names of companies: “PressFriendly”, etc to see who has covered them, I’ll then add reporters who have covered them to the list.

The biggest issue with this approach is to figure out how often the reporter you found actually writes about the topic you found the article about. Sometimes writers get randomly assigned something outside of their beat, out of need from the publication. Other times, they decide just to cover something once to learn something new and they have no intention of covering it again.

You see the notes section in my spreadsheet? That’s where I add in details about them after I look at their profile. What types of articles have they been writing? What’s their usual beat? Who are they? My research helps me write my email to them.

Here is an example. I add this article into my spreadsheet:

http://firstround.com/article/why-most-startups-dont-get-press

After I read through it I know this is spot on to what I’m doing with my tool, but is this typically what this author covers? This is a blog for a VC firm. So I start digging a little more into who this person really is.

I read about her on the bio page: http://firstround.com/team/Camille_Ricketts

I google her and check out her past articles on VentureBeat:

http://venturebeat.com/author/vbcamillericketts/

Also her articles on HuffPo:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/camille-ricketts/

Here Slideshare:

http://www.slideshare.net/CamilleRicketts2

I look through her social media:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/camillericketts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/camillericketts

I’m starting to get a sense of who she is. She is not a PR person, she is a startup person. She loves to cover startups. She used to do just news and now her beat is more of how to build successful startups since she works at a VC firm and runs content for them.

So this spreadsheet is usually about 40-50 people by the time I start. Can be less but I like to shoot for at least 40. These are highly relevant reporters to what I’m going to pitch them.

Ok, now that you know who to reach out to you need to write an email pitch and figure out the best time to pitch them.

3. Write an Email Pitch

Before I’ll show you examples I just want you to remember:

  • Use email to pitch. 81% of writers prefer to be pitched on email.
  • Email should be 200 words or less. 88% of writers prefer a pitch be less than 200 words.
  • Subject line is key. 85% of writers open email based on subject line.
  • Subject should be 45-65 characters. Your subject line should be: direct, concise and descriptive.

Usually your email pitch should have the following in it, (but it’s OK to omit some of these to make it short and more personable):

  • How does your startup/pitch relate to what the reporter has written about before and the news today?
  • Your startup Name:
  • Your website URL
  • CrunchBase Profile URL if pitching TC
  • Description of your startup in 75 words or fewer from your 1 sentence pitch section
  • Possibly founders’ bios in 75 words or fewer.
  • Have you launched?
  • Your main competitors? and why are you better?
  • Got funding, yes or not? If yes, from who and how much. TC won’t cover you if you have undisclosed funding.

I’ve used different variations of the following email pitch template for years and years. Here it is:

Subject: Re: <Story Title From Google Doc above>

Hey <First Name>,

My name is [first name] from [company name]. After reading your article {{ story.title }} I thought your readers might be interested to hear more about [topic from their article which relates to what you’re pitching] since the subject of [general topic from the article] has been in the news lately as you’ve probably seen. Looking over your bio and past articles sounds like you cover [topic from the article] a lot.

We developed a technology that… <insert your one sentence pitch here>.

We have some <insert your news/study> which relates directly to your interests and I wanted to shoot over info/details for you to review/check out. Let me know if you’d be interested?

Thanks,

<Your full name>

<contact info>

Here is a real life example of me pinging someone from the Google Doc above:

Subject: Made an app based on your article:10 Essential PR Tips for Startups

Hey Erica-

A while back, back in 2011 that is (so not that long ago) you wrote an article for Mashable about PR tips for startups:http://mashable.com/2011/10/10/pr-startups/ What you said in there was near and dear to my heart, and it prompted me to build a tool for startups to do their own PR instead of hiring firms based on exact tips you outline in there.  Here is a bit about it:

http://www.criminallyprolific.com/2014/04/why-startups-should-forget-pr-firms-how-you-can-do-your-own-pr/

Would love to hear your feedback about the tool: http://justreachout.io

-Dmitry

Her response:

Hi Dmitry,

Lovely to see a Boston entrepreneur doing interesting things. The idea of the tool is interesting (and a nice start). But have you used MuckRack? It’s much more powerful, in my opinion. Looking forward to your thoughts.

Cheers,

Erica

Here is another example:

Subject: Re: Why Your Startup Shouldn’t Hire a PR Firm

Hey Stephen-

Your article on FastCo prompted me to finally finish up building a tool for startups to do their own PR instead of hiring firms. Everything you say in there is near and dear to my heart. In fact, I wrote an article with a similar title:

http://www.criminallyprolific.com/2014/04/why-startups-should-forget-pr-firms-how-you-can-do-your-own-pr/

Would love to hear your feedback about the tool: http://justreachout.io

His response:

Dmitry,

This is awesome! Really. Let me know if you need me to test it out at all. Great article too. Are you in NYC any time soon? We should meet up for a beer.

Cheers,

Stephen Robert Morse

Now here is a different example. I saw an article which had something I can pitch him that he’d love that is related to what he wrote about so I reached out.

Subject: talking gumby webcams and much more my man

Hey Andrew-

Respect your writing a bunch, I’m an old acquaintance of Adam Pash of Lifehacker, love you guys’s work at Gizmodo as well, check in every other day. Saw something you’d dig, wanted to pass it on. In relation to your post on webcams from Feb:

http://gizmodo.com/5888244/a-gumby+like-webcam-that-can-be-any-shape-you-need

I saw this little hacking guide/video on how to “actually look good on webcam” which was just published, figured you’d dig, wanted to shoot this over:

http://wistia.com/blog/snazzy-on-webcam/

Curious to hear your thoughts about it, I thought they bring up pretty good points, no?

-Dmitry

——

Hey Dmitry,

Thanks for the compliments and reaching out. Neat video, great points in it, I’ve heard good things about using iGlasses for tweaking your webcam’s image, have you used it much? It is pretty pricey I believe.

—–

They are a bit pricey I guess, it’s all relative. I have not used iGlasses app myself yet. I heard it’s the best though. There are a number of free alternatives though, have you seen this list?

http://alternativeto.net/software/iglasses/

-Dmitry

—-

Oh, thanks for that list Dmitry. Lots of free alternatives to that app in the list, I’ll have to give some of these a try. That Cheese app looks neat.

A

Here is another example (I love to use typos to start conversations):

Hey Anita-

Respect your reporting a great deal, love the stories you put out. Crazy to think that there are more people using mobile vs. desktop now. Saw that you have a few spelling mistakes in your recent article, wanted to follow up:

“The project, which was was announced”

“The content will be used for The New York Times’”

Looking forward to your next stories. What are you working on next?

-Dmitry

—-

Hi Dmitry,

Thanks for the kind words and catches-unfortunately, blogging increases the chances of typos!

Working on a piece about Mobile First approach currently.

Best,

Anita

—-

Oh neat, you know there was a pretty interesting piece which was published by founder/author of Mobile First on AListApart titled Sign Up Forms Must Die, have you seen this?

http://alistapart.com/article/signupforms

-Dmitry

—-

Thanks for sending this, I did not but it’s a neat approach he is talking about. Gradual engagement has been widely talked about recently. Do you know Luke personally?

-A

You starting to get how this works? Hopefully these email examples give you an idea of how to construct your own email pitch.

In any case, onward. Now you got the Google Doc hit list and you know how to write an email. Next up – figure out the best time to reach out.

4. Figure Out The Best Time To Reach Out

When is best to email a reporter? I say 6:30am or 7am their local time.

69% of journalists prefer to be pitched in the morning. So the goal here is to make sure you’re the most recent email in their inbox when they check their email.

What I do is look at their tweeting patterns, how early do they start sending out tweets? If they are sending tweets out they for sure have checked their email at least once that morning to make sure there is nothing crazy urgent they need to attend to. Usually if you’re tweeting you checked your email.

I use YesWare which is awesome sauce for checking to see if and when and how many times recipients open your email. I also use Boomerang to schedule my emails to go out at a specific time.

Aight, now you have a hit list of relevant reporters, you got a good email written, you know the perfect time to email them. Next up – you need their email address.

5. Guess Reporter’s Email Address 

Ok, there are about a million ways to guess a reporter’s email. First thing is to look at the article itself and their bio on publication page and Twitter. If email is not listed there do the following:

Watch this video of how to do this:

To do this you need:

  • A Gmail account, if you don’t have one already (most people do)
  • The Rapportive plugin from Rapportive.com to get rich contact information inside Gmail
  • The Google Doc spreadsheet at bit.ly/name2email

This works pretty well and I’ve been using it for years. Now if you want to save some time and use a tool which does this automatically and actually verifies emails by pinging the server with different email heuristics combinations I would use one of these tools:

You just type in the first name and last name and domain (i.e. publication they write for or gmail.com) and the tool does its thing and gives you the email address.

6. Reach Out

Aight you ready? This is it. You have a list of relevant reporters based on your topic. You wrote a good email, you know the best time to reach out to them (around 6:30am or so). You have their email address. Go ahead and do your thing.

This is it folks. I’m not going to write a long conclusion because the goal of this article is to get out there and take action. These are the steps you go through to do your own PR for free.

If you do this not only will you save tons of money but you will own these relationships with reporters yourselves! 🙂

Happy emailing!

Leave a question or comment below!

If you are going to bitch about something don’t bother reaching out. 🙂 As Noah likes to say, “Hugs, Dmitry”. 🙂

OkDork is offering a free code to readers to Access Dmitry’s Udemy course about Startup PR.
Click above to get your code for free access.

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120 responses to “The 6 Step Guide to Getting Free Press for Your Startup

  1. Henley Wing Reply

    Awesome guide, Dmitry! Great to see you using our tool BuzzSumo to find targeted journalists!

    A timely question for you: Let’s say we want to launch a product like BuzzSumo to the public. When do you think is the best time to start asking journalists if they can cover our product? A month beforehand? 2 weeks? Assuming you have no prior relationship or communication.

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Thanks for the question Henley. In general it’s never ever too early to start reaching out. I’d say as soon as you have an interesting story which you think they’ll cover – you can start reaching out. Now to identify what is interesting to them – that takes practice.

  2. Todd Reply

    Dmitry – Kickass guide here, definitely adding these templates to our swipe files and testing out the process for outreach for a new partnership we’re working on for September.

    Also redeemed the coupon for the Udemy course, looking forward to setting aside some time this week to go through it with my notebook in hand 🙂

  3. Louise Dickens Reply

    Hey, great post (thank you for actually writing about the specifics instead of a general ‘pitch to journalists in your industry’)

    I’m going to incorporate these techniques in my future PR strategies!

  4. Waqas Ali Reply

    Markhor works with indigenous artisans to make handcrafted shoes for the modern gentleman.

    Dmirty and Noah, this is super helpful and great timing too. We are launching our Kickstarter campaign to get backers for our first collection of handmade shoes. At the moment we are actually trying to reach out to media folks these days. Looking forward to the awesome pitches here.

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Right on. Love the pitch, so simple and easy to understand. I was wondering what “indigenous artisans” meant. Mind elaborating? Sounds like an awesome idea, good luck with campaign.

  5. Andre Reply

    Great guide! I’ve redeemed your Udemy code too, thanks! Will follow and share after this.
    Even though I’m not 100% sure about 6:30 or 7:00 when you want to pitch a reporter because after a lengthy discussion with my PR, she mentioned that as a reporter, things can get hectic. She suggested an entirely different strategy to get them around 9:00 when they are not that swamped when we are releasing press-release — thoughts?

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Hey Andre, good question. There is no one exact time every reporter is free. I’m just saying in my 8 years doing this for myself I’ve had the most luck with 6:30am/7am. Now every reporter you reach out is different and that is why I like to take a more personal approach to the whole thing. I like to research them, find out their patterns of when they start tweeting in the morning (sign that they have some free time) and really learn their patterns. Then reach out at best time when I think they have a break. Hope this makes more sense?

  6. Christina Reply

    Dmitry, this is probably one of the most useful posts about PR that I’ve read. There are a couple of apps and ideas in the pipeline and I was wondering how I should go about contacting journalists to get them featured. This post came at the right time. Thanks! (I’m also going to make some time to go through your other posts and the course.)

  7. Nikhil Waghdhare Reply

    Hey Noah,

    This is amazing post. Those pitches and templates are great. I’m not inventing any startup, but still have planning to something new after reading your past few posts.
    Thank you for your those great post buddy…. 🙂

  8. Andrei Lyskov Reply

    My Company, Rivalry, is developing a web application to help individuals challenge one another and get motivated to complete their goals by setting personalized goals, and monetary stakes.

    With regards to the article, this is a gold mine of information, thank you very much for sharing it.

  9. Reuben D. Rock Reply

    Awesome post! And timely.

    My company Shade.ly makes sunglasses with custom engraved lenses (whatever you want!) so you can keep brand advertisements off your face. Who wouldn’t love 1 of a kind shades?

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Like the pitch, but it started to break down for me here: “(whatever you want!) so you can keep brand advertisements off your face” – is it really a problem people complain about, having brand ads on their glasses? I’d focus more on custon engravements and how that works/looks.

  10. Ryan Guth Reply

    Wonderful guide, Dmitry! I run multiple music groups and have begun to draft content to help musicians “get out there” (for free). This guide is applicable to more than startups! I have an ever growing audience in a small niche that sucks as this stuff… Wonderful ideas here. I’ll definitely schedule a time to share this one!

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Cheers! You can for sure use these techniques for any type of outreach. I would say do your research about the person you’re reaching out to, make sure you know them well before emailing, it always helps.

  11. Chris Reply

    Thanks for the advice, great stuff and will definitely be applying it to my upcoming PR.

    “My company Snaptrip offers discounted last minute cottage holidays across the UK”.

    What do you think?

  12. Karen Reply

    Hi Dmitry, would be great to get your feedback on this, thanks!

    “VM is a web-based video CV platform that helps medium-large enterprises simplify the hiring process and evaluate candidates with one click.”

  13. Jacob Reply

    LocalLedge is a brilliantly designed Mobile App that puts the power of community in your hands. Build, create, organize and communicate with others around you who share your interests and passions.

      1. Jacob Reply

        Honest feedback is great to have. I’m a marketer and have sold tens of millions of dollars worth of other peoples products and services. I can say it’s truly hard to see the forest for the trees when it’s your own product and your chin deep in it.

        Second Attempt

        “Local Ledge is a mobile app that connects you with those around you to build a better community.”

        Truly hard to get it in just 1 line. I know it’s still not right but given 4-5 sentences I can explain it.

        1. Jacob Reply

          Third Attempt. I think this one liner is simpler with the secret sauce mentioned above.

          “LocalLedge is a mobile app that connects you with those around you to build a better community by sharing your intests, passions and desires through the power of Social networking.”

          1. Jacob Reply

            Thanks Dmitry for the feedback. I was surprised and thankful you took the time to respond to me followups. I don’t want to waste your time but I’m going to push my luck and try again.

            4th Attempt

            LocalLedge is a mobile app to build a better community by sharing your interests, passions and ideas through creating local community hotspots that only people in your city can see and join.

          1. Jacob Reply

            My Favorite quote is “Success is 70% Failure”. I like to ad on “in my case it’s closer to 90%”.

            5th Try

            My Company LoalLedge is developing a social networking app to help people connect with their neighbors and community to make technology bring them together instead of walling them off with a truely local and user controlled social app.

            6th would be a run on sentence

            My Company LoalLedge is developing a social networking app to help people connect with their neighbors and community to make technology bring them together instead of walling them off with a truely local and user controlled social app that let’s users create an instant social network between 20ft and 20 miles based on any topic, group or interest they want to chat about.

            ——
            I would not count the 6th try as a sentence as it’s a whole paragraph that I could break down into 3 sentences and explain more of the Secret Sauce. Headline split testing is far easier than this. I’m thinking your probably worth every penny someone pays to help come up with an easy to understand message.

          2. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

            dude, I’m honestly lost as to what the heck you are trying to say in all these. A hot spot? an app? bring people together? social? Huh? I just hear a lot of buzzwords. SO hard to understand… 🙂 Feel free to email me dmitry at criminallyprolific dot com, happy to email thread this one with you…

  14. Desentupidora Reply

    Awesome post.

    I enjoy those pitches and templates are great.

    I’ve been thiking to invent startup, and this post gave a lot of new ideas! Not only this post, but the olther one too!

    Thank you for your those great post buddy…. My frinds of my company Hidrocil also enjoy your posts!

    Thanks again!
    Cya
    Desentupidora

  15. Cam Adair Reply

    Awesome guide Dmitry!

    Question: I recently did a TEDx talk on rejection/bullying and the video will be releasing in a few weeks. I’ve been putting together a launch, and was wondering how you think the PR approach would work for a TEDx video vs. a startup product.

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Well it really depends what a “launch” means to you. Who do you want to watch your video and write about it? What is your goal for promoting this video? The general process above is the same but you do need to change up who you are looking for of course. The success of this depends on who you contact and how much reserch you do about them before you reach out. Make sense?

  16. Denise Reply

    Reading this on the way back home (Denver) from Santa Fe – husband is driving. 😉

    Just looked up and told him I’m going to eliminate the PR line item from my budget. Thanks for spelling out in such detail. I wasn’t expecting the sample emails. How cool of you to include. Would love to be chosen to get your help (although ill be implementing myself as we’ll). Just launched about 8 weeks ago. Site is still in beta. Either way, you rock. Thank you.

  17. Victoria Genin Reply

    Hi Dmitry – Thanks for this! It goes to show if you’re willing to put up the effort, not only can you get results, but save some dough! ok, so it might take a little longer than your average savvy PR firm who already has the targeted journalist lists, but they started somewhere too — PLUS, you stay in control of your message. I kinda like that. Cheers!

  18. Demetrio Fortman Reply

    This is the most useful and timely article ever. And I love your humorous writing style, Dmitry. Thanks a ton for this!

    Here’s my take on one-sentence pitch:
    Being built by a well-knit team of web developers and photography enthusiasts, Defrozo.com is an all-in-one marketing platform that helps photographers book more clients with modern, scalable software.

    By the way, wondering if you like to photograph, I googled “Dmitry Dragilev photography”. Looks like it’s not among your interests, but I noticed a bunch of cool, emotional portraits of yours in Google Images. Are those taken by a friend? If yes, you might want to share that sentence with them. Friends are the first to get growth hacking advice, right? 🙂

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Not sure you need this part: “Being built by a well-knit team of web developers and photography enthusiasts,” – just fluff. I like the part that comes after it.. but there is no secret sauce in it… what’s your secret sauce… i know tons of sites where photographers can find work..

      1. Demetrio Fortman Reply

        Thanks Dmitry! It’s interesting that I added that “fluff” to the complete sentence, I guess I forgot I’m addressing it to the reporters but not the target audience.

        I revised the sentence to better reveal our secret sauce:

        Defrozo.com is an all-in-one platform that helps photographers market their business online with the most feature-rich free plan in the industry.

        What do you think?

        Thanks!

          1. Demetrio Fortman Reply

            Took some time to brainstorm some more descriptive and less “marketing” messages…

            Defrozo.com is an all-in-one platform that integrates client base & time management system with photo showcase tools, and is focused on simplicity and affordability to help photographers better organize and market their business online.

            Is it getting any better?

            Thanks a ton for your reviews and tips Dmitry. You rock!

  19. Dr. Shewp Reply

    Pitch: Paradigm Podiatry offers holistic foot and ankle care for people who don’t want to use prescription drugs or are taking too many already. We use nutrition, exercise, and supplementation to treat ailments before trying medications or surgery.

    Great article. Oodles of content. I will re-read this tonight with my notebook in hand. Thanks.

  20. chris heibert Reply

    We recycle/reuse ink and toner cartridges and cell phones with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. —OR—- Help us reduce the waste in our landfills while alleviating hunger in Southwestern Pennsylvania

    Hey Dmitry- I have an active campaign on Indiegogo. I am in the process of getting the message out, so your tips are going to be extremely helpful. One question- Which is the better one sentence pitch (from above) when trying to attract attention. Thanks in advance! Chris

  21. Julia Reply

    While I enjoyed your article and took a lot of notes from it, I do believe there’s something valuable that an agency brings… and that is the right contacts. It is so much easier to work with somebody who already have a relationship in place with journalists and can make the story happen. I also think trying to make your pitch “Newsworthy” should help. It isn’t easy, but something I’ve heard many times from my journalist friends 🙂

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Right on, the purpose of this article is for all the startups that cannot afford a PR Firm to learn how to do this yourself. Just like with everything you can always hire people to do it for you. Most startups can’t afford PR firms, hence this article. Totally agree with you on newsworthiness, crucial part of any pitch.

  22. Adam Szabo Reply

    This article is so great I renamed it to “Hacking PR” in my mind after Tim Ferris’s famous Hacking Kickstarter post.

    My Company Superstarred.com is Got Talent + YouTube with a twist: contestants get bonus points for answering fan questions and requests. We achieved a 48% response rate in the first beta round.

    OK, I guess this is too long 🙂

      1. Adam Szabo Reply

        Thanks for answering, Dmitry!
        What is it: Superstarred.com is a YouTube-based talent contest. We give points to participants for connecting with the audience.
        Why: Fans want to connect with YouTube stars and learn from them. Superstarred encourages contestants to reply to their questions.

          1. Adam Szabo Reply

            Imagine you’re a singer competing for the first place. If you answer fan questions below your videos, you get +10 points in the contest for each answer.

            We want to encourage talents to reply to fans with this ranking system.

          2. Adam Szabo Reply

            Whoever collects the most points wins first prize. Top 3 goes to finals as well.
            You can collect points with the usual Vote buttons as well (+1 point for each vote).
            Too complicated?

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Guest articles. Those work amazing. Writing as a guest on other blogs and getting smart people to write on your blog. Kinda like Noah does. He probably has a wealth of info on this…

  23. Jeremy Reply

    Nice article Dimitry, how do you keep track of the reporters who did not answer? Following up can seriously increase your response rate (I observe an average of 4 times more responses with my users).

    I’m developing QuickMail.io, a tool to automatically send follow up emails to help startup entrepreneurs get more responses from their target audience with no effort.

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      I actually mark it in the Google doc when I last reached out to them and who I should re-ping. You’re correct, I’d say 80% of success lies in the follow up. I’d absolutely LOVE to take a test drive of QuickMail.io, shoot me a note: dmitry at criminallyprolific.com

  24. Don Puryear Reply

    Great recommendations – and perfect timing! This past week, I began contacting members of the press about my startup Botl (the online & mobile “message in a bottle” social network). Your systematic approach will be vastly more effective. Going forward, I’ll follow your six steps and let you know how it goes! Thanks for the guidance.

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Sure. Know the article you’re talking about, read it before. My thoughts on this are that you should never do a HUGE PR push without testing the product with existing customers and having people use it. I like to do little bursts and get little bunches of people using the product, get feedback from them, refine, then get more in. Then when you have say 20 or 50 happy customers who are paying for your service then you can do a bigger PR push. Read this post I wrote on how I launched JustReachOut and tested it: http://www.criminallyprolific.com/2014/06/how-i-sold-my-app-to-10-people-before-i-wrote-a-line-of-code-and-then-launched-it/

      1. Tyler Reply

        Thanks for the additional article Dmitry! All of these great resources are shaping my PR strategies big time. Also, I love JustReachOut, and can’t wait to use it.

  25. Chinedu Reply

    NIce guide Dmitry, trust me the PR companies won’t like this. You have saved a ton of money for some folks that need this info. Looking forward to getting more wonderful posts on this blog for the Taco loving fans 🙂

  26. kilian saekel Reply

    Thank you very much Dmitry! I am currently preparing a kickstarter campaign so this kind of advice helps big time..one question I have: what about a press release text? according to the above described there is only a email pitch. do you suggest that a press release text is not needed? or should i just not add it directly to the first pitch email? my idea was to have a) the email pitch, b) attachment 1 = press release, c) attachment 2 = product pic, c) attachment 3 a short bio about myself (wow, sounds quite a lot once i see it written down like this..). is this ok or too much? your help is appreciated a lot, once oprah is calling me for a date i will let you know..cheers and regards from Shanghai

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Keep it as short as possible on the initial pitch, don’t include too much info or attachments. A simple pitch such as above works well to gauge if they are interested. If the email is too long it’s sometimes easy to get lost in it and lose interest.

      1. Susan Reply

        This is an awesome piece. The specifics are wonderful. However, you focus a good deal on having a “secret sauce” component but the Airbnb one liner (which is tops in my book too) doesn’t mention anything like that. Plenty of sites were in the field online before they were. Perhaps simplicity (to the point of Google-esque minimalism) & concise wording are the primary factors to focus on?

  27. Nolan Walker Reply

    Really nice guide. I’m giving Rapportive a try, though, and it doesn’t seem to be working for me. Maybe I’m just unlucky. All of the other tools suggested seem super duper helpful!

  28. Shawn DeWolfe Reply

    I have been trying to get attention for my stuff. I think it can sometimes be a matter of finding the “man-bites-dog” novelty in what I do. Are there any suggestions for finding reporters who just want to carry out some coverage of a good idea that may not be weird or quirky?

  29. pardeep Reply

    Great article on PR, detailed information with depth knowledge. We are launching app in few days and this article gonna big help in spreading word. Thanks for writing and sharing.

  30. Natalia Reply

    ?????? ????! Pleasant surprise to know that you are my compatriot. Thanks for straight guidance.
    Our startup relates to online dating, in a way. Now we’re testing Flamingo app on a close group of people to get the feedback. The main challenge I see while promoting it is that it should be a close community (e.g. an office) where people can get the phone number of any employee easily, but either too shy or don’t have the possibility to talk to each other.

    What should we focus on while promoting this kind of app?

    Here is my pitch:
    Flamingo is a smart app to connect with people from your phone’s contact list and arrange a hook up.
    Discover who fancy you by sending anonymous likes and leave no trace of communication with self-destructing message history.

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Hey Natalia! Cheers! 🙂 I’m bit lost as to what you’re asking. Are you asking how you can get more people to use your dating app? I’d start using ti yourself and see if you can get your friends to use it first I guess? Say, try to sell it to 10 people who you know? then 10 people who are strangers.

      Real through how I did this with my tool here, perhaps this helps: http://www.criminallyprolific.com/2014/06/how-i-sold-my-app-to-10-people-before-i-wrote-a-line-of-code-and-then-launched-it/

  31. Aron Placencia Reply

    One question good sir! I read this because I’ve followed Noah for a while now. Curious if you have a post that digs deep into the science and mindset of connecting with the right influencers for partnerships or collaborations. Not just to get coverage but to build and create win-win partnerships that allow you to leverage their audience, much like you did here.

    Love the guide amigo!~

    @Aronado

    oh!

    “TheCarForce, We locate amazing vehicles for remarkable people. We handle every single detail for you. You never need to visit a car dealership again”

  32. Hugh Culver Reply

    Brilliant. Dmitry, this is the most useful piece on PR I’ve come across. And as someone who has wasted money hiring a PR firm, I’m slapping the side of my head wishing I’d had this a year ago. Love how you took something mysterious and gave us steps to follow. Thanks man.

  33. Rodger Johnson Reply

    I think you make some good points. But when you give number six as “guess their (the reporter’s) email address, you lose me. That’s why we have databases like Cision. I’m a public relations professional, and there’s a lot more to media relations than pitch how it’s described here.

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      Thanks for the comment Roger. This post is meant for scrappy startups who cannot afford hiring any PR people or buying subscriptions to Cision or DBs of reporters, hence the target reader here is very different from the type of clients you probably work with. These folks could barely afford to pay $25/month. So this is a primer for them on how to go about doing PR on their own. Make sense?

  34. Cyndy Sandor Reply

    Great article – thanks for sharing this. I run a small marketing consulting firm that specializes in helping early stage startups. And we run into the issue of PR–when, where, how and how much–all the time. I have worked with startups who hire PR firms and those who take the DIY approach. From my experience, the in-house approach – especially at an early stage – is far more effective and, I think, helps to build your credibility with the media.. I recently worked with a client launching a consumer mobile app (targeted toward millennials) who insisted on hiring a NY based PR firm to build awareness and drive installs (against my recommendation). It was too soon to launch PR because the app was still too buggy. After 6 months and about $75K, they received a fair amount of media coverage (mostly vanity press for the founder), staged launch events for the press, etc. But, numbers don’t lie and unfortunately all of this did nothing to increase installs and active users. The money would have been better spent improving the app, getting customer validation, and initiating an in-house PR campaign when their beta version became more stable.

    1. Dmitry Dragilev Reply

      I couldn’t agree more, you outlined EXACTLY why I urge startups to do this themselves. I even created a service to make it even easier for them to learn how to do this on the cheap. I am going to use your comment every time someone asks me why JustReachOut exists 🙂 Love it!

  35. Pierre Reply

    Hi Dmitry! Really really great article. Used your method for our next Kickstarter campaign. What do you think about:

    “Prizm is developing a brain for your speakers to help people easily enjoy great music at home without having to face a screen and think about what they want to hear, thanks to machine learning and context awareness.”

  36. Colin @Serped.com Reply

    Awesome Dmitry,
    Swiped and added into my Asana with all the resources you mentioned. Starting the build out, so the PR comes soon, thanks a bunch for the depth you went into on each point. The template is in place, now to customize it to our (the readers) voice

  37. Ratko Ivanovi? Reply

    Great article. The examples are priceless.

    Love the personal approach. I think (without really knowing:D) that the way to approach should be personalised for the person as much as you can, will do my research then.

    I have one questions, my one sentence pitch is: A VA agency providing efficient business admin services, through the use of the “micro work” model.

    Did I catch your attention with it?

  38. Derek Myers Reply

    This is great advice. I’ve tried a few of these methods, but I think you’re right that the key to communicating to writers who you email is by being succinct and get what your startup does as fast as possible before they leave the email.

  39. Rinita Reply

    Hi Dmitry, thanks for this post. I have a startup and we are now looking to launch an in-house PR campaign, so your article has been incredibly useful. The sample emails are really cool, but I notice that you only start out by asking the writers for their feedback about your app – and not specifically to cover your story. Is there a reason for doing so? And also, if I am looking more for a story coverage at this stage of development, does it make sense to directly request for a story coverage? Thanks so much!

  40. AGamal Reply

    Great article, Dmitry! but what should i do if i can’t get reporters Emails? all what i have their linkedIn and twitter accounts.

  41. Natasha Reply

    Hi Dmitry,

    You said that knowing what journalists want take a practice. I don’t have it yet 🙂 Can you help me find a topic for them? Mine were “2025 – The World is a Team” and “First tool to START a business”. Doesn’t work… What would you suggest? igg.me/at/bigs

  42. Julien Duc Reply

    Great stuff! This is going to help us a lot. Are there reporters who ask you how you found their email address? What do you tell them? 😉

  43. Chris Reply

    Hi Dmitry – Very helpful insights from a great guy – Like it! I couldn’t resist to kindly ask you for your feedback on the following pitch: “We generate promising sales leads for SMBs on a pay-per-lead basis by transforming their content into digital marketing assets and optimize it for best performance.”

  44. Niharika Reply

    Awesome, love the post and it is kind of you to reply to almost every comment, though we all know how busy bloggers are. And the thread of your convo with a guy where you were trying hard to understand what he did and why. Lots of efforts put in there, you really care about what people have to say, rather just hanging there for the heck of it like a lot of folks. I enjoyed the read. Cheers !

  45. Omkar Reply

    Great article for someone like me who has just started up and its a great help

    Will let you the response as I to start this immediately

  46. Adele Tiblier Reply

    Reading this makes me feel like we were separated at birth. I do similar digging but your notes in refining the pitch are fantastic. Thanks for sharing your method. I’m excited to have something worthy of pitching again soon.