Tips, Tricks and Takeaways on Getting Media Coverage for Startups


By Beca Truong

As PR professionals, we understand the struggle of getting placements in top-tier tech publications. So on May 8, 2017, Blanc & Otus attended a media panel here in San Francisco of respected tech journalists to gain insights on how to get media coverage on startups. The panel was hosted at the Rocketspace office and featured: 

Bérénice Magistretti – Venture Capital Reporter at VentureBeat
Cory Weinberg – Reporter at The Information
John Mannes – Writer at TechCrunch
Moderator: Ashleigh Harris, SVP Marketing at Rocketspace

The panel was an opportunity for the reporters to be candid about their work, and what we learned was eye-opening yet rooted in common sense. Read onwards for a summary and takeaways from the panel event.

The Life of a Startup Journalist
Contrary to popular belief, journalists don’t spend their time at dimly lit desks typing away and churning out articles. For these venture capital and startup-focused journalists, most of the workday is dedicated to conserving at coffee meetings, discussions, sponsored dinners, conferences or phone calls in order to get a scoop or just build relationships.

If you’re not great at writing interesting subject lines, you should be: these VentureBeat and TechCrunch writers typically get around 200-300 emails a day. E-mails that aren’t eye-catching or easy to digest get passed over. Additionally, if a reporter knows you personally and recognizes your name, they are much more likely to respond, so building personal relationships is as important as ever.

Crafting the Perfect Pitch
The journalists on the panel all agreed: shorter is better. Given the volume of email and call media people receive, make sure your pitch is at most three sentences long. 

Your pitch should relevant to your targeted reporter’s range of topics and you should make sure they haven’t recently covered something similar. A topical piece on a recent trend may make sense to share, but pitching a company story that is almost identical to a company they just covered may not be newsworthy to them. 

Timing is important! Send pitches as early as possible, under embargo or as an exclusive. This provides enough time for reporters to read and for you to send follow-ups in case they missed your email the first time or plan around other conflicts like industry events or dinners.

Other Tips on How to Get Your Start-up On the Radar
Journalism and sales actually have a lot in common, in that relationship building, persistence, and a core good idea are crucial for success. The panel gave insights on which start-ups or CEOs are likely to get more attention, and the most important things to consider in your pitches:

  • Prioritize emailing above all else. Emails are digestible and easy to reference and triage.
  • News angles of value and relevance are important. Make sure your pitch either rides a trend, or is so ridiculously crazy (in a good way) that it makes for interesting news.
  • If you’re pitching a smaller pub, consider that the publishing timeline might be longer since writers have to get editorial approval first.
  • Press releases are nice to include for reference and company information.
  • Make sure you understand whom you’re pitching and what you’re pitching. If you aren’t well versed in the tech area you’re trying to pitch for, conduct more research!
  • Throughout the panel, the journalists emphasized that relationship building should be top of mind. Outside of pitching, the panel suggested scheduling a meeting over coffee to create an open dialogue.

Thanks to Rocketspace for hosting the event and to the journalists for sharing their insight. We look forward to weaving these tips and tricks into our upcoming pitches!