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I always read that creating a connection with a journalist is one of the most fundamental steps in leading up to a successful launch.

However, most of the examples are that the founders attended a convention where said journalist spoke, or they live in the same city (or country) and would love to buy them coffee etc.

As I'm located in Australia, and we're looking for a more global PR effort, these situations are not highly frequent. Are there any great ways to connect with a journalist digitally?

Thank you all!

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    over 5 years ago #

    I've learned the following:

    1) Journalists are busy and inundated by people who want to create a relationship with them. There are three realities that are critical to understanding: 1) they get spammed all the time, 2) they have a massive, ceaseless content requirement to fulfill, and 3) they (for the most part) are measured on the success of their articles by the people that view them. If you understand these three things, then you now have a framework for working with a journalist.

    2) Your product or business is not interesting to them. They cover some companies, but for the most part they are looking for stories that are interesting to the larger community. Stories that will get read. Stories they can put their name on. To do that they need: fresh angles and thoughts, and real data.

    3) They want to work with primary sources. PR people, while great, can get tuned out by reporters. Also, PR people put a layer between you and the journalist, defeating your goal of building a relationship. Some of my best outreach success has been telling journalists that I'm a founder of a xyz company (if it's true) and sharing some news.

    All of that said I've found the best way to do this is:

    1) Start before you need anything from them.
    2) Give them real value first. Share a tip, or data points that help advance their work in the area that they cover.
    3) Don't pitch reporters irrelevant stuff. Read what they've written before and talk to them about the things they cover.
    4) Send them things that don't involve you directly, but involve your industry and what they cover, or something tangentially relates to you. For example, when reporters were talking a lot about Pinterest for ecommerce companies, I was able to pull our Pinterest traffic and revenue stats and send them to a reporter for context. It created a great dialog and relationship.
    5) Did I mention they want real numbers? Survey data, analytics, etc. are far more interesting to them than generic pitches.
    6) Bundle your pitch as trends. Are you a mobile messaging app? Then don't just pitch your business, wrap your app in a story about a bigger trend piece.
    7) Don't spam them. Emailing should be selective and deliver real value.
    8) Don't be long winded. They're busy. Short and sweet emails.
    9) When you can, meet them in person. Go to conferences, meetups, etc.
    10) To Chris's point. Blog news flows upward. Get on the radar of smaller blogs and get coverage there. The reporters at those sites aren't as inundated and have the same content need. As you get coverage on smaller sites, you'll notice some of your news starts to float up to the bigger sites. You can also use the coverage at smaller sites to validate your story with a bigger site.

  • CS

    Chris Sanfilippo

    over 5 years ago #

    I asked similar questions to a blogger from Tech Crunch and a few local journalists here in Tampa. They said that they welcome news tips. They are more interested in writing about your story than anything else (like new product features).

    Most of them agreed that they like to see press releases to get more background information about your startup. At the same time, they said they wouldn't be happy if you hit up every journalist in the city about your story. Every journalist wants to be original or to be the first to break a story.
    To send a news tip, just send them an email (check linkedin or their profile on their new site). In the email, just give them a brief overview and kindly ask if "this is the type of story you would cover".
    Know the topics they write about and know the content their site shares, and also the angle or perspective they have.
    I have a twitter list just for pr people in Tampa. They all know who I am because I've been getting on their good side for the past 6 months.
    I've read Ryan Holidays book TMIL, I wouldb't recommend any of the manipulative tactics for getting press, but it did help me learn how the blog and news sites work. They want a solid story that will get clicks. If your story is too good to pass up, then they will write about it. If your story is boring and just like every other startup story out there, it would be tough to get press.

    • VN

      Violeta Nedkova

      over 5 years ago #

      Hi Chris. It's funny that you mention Ryan Holiday's book. It's true that every piece of writing, especially if it is so bold and insightful, can teach us new things and give us new ideas. I am reading the book right now even though I am not even close to manipulating anything!

      By the way, what do you think about the anger element? I have noticed that controversy gets more attention, but there must be something else apart from anger that works. OR maybe there's a better way to get the same response without faking press releases and leaking fake documents...

      Sorry if this is a diversion from the topic. It's just on my mind atm...

  • TM

    Taylor Miles

    over 5 years ago #

    Have a Good looking Girl/Guy Friend find them on Tinder ;)

  • DG

    Dave Gerhardt

    almost 4 years ago #

    This one might seem silly, but the best way to create a relationship with a journalist is to have news or something meaningful.

    If you have a great story or a good hook (funding, product news, big hire announcement, etc.) that will trump any relationship.

    Most journalists don't want to be friends, they want great stories. Plus, they spend their day swimming in an inbox of 100's of PR pitches so it's really hard to break through the clutter.

    It's almost a credibility thing too - if you can give them a great story, they will come back to you and then you can build a relationship.

    Follow them on Twitter, read their articles daily, get a great feel for their style and the things they write about, and then find a way to work your company into that conversation. You can also help by pointing them in the right direction with a source other than yourself -- there's a good chance you know someone that could help contribute to a story even if it's not your company.

  • PO

    paul olund

    over 5 years ago #

    Working for a large media organization, I'm slammed with dozens of pitches a day. A few thoughts (most reiterating Morgan's points below):

    1. Never spam. I delete emails sent to groups immediately.
    2. Pitch the story, not the product: Why should I, or my audience, care?
    3. Do your homework. Are you pitching the right person? "I don't write about the entertainment industry. Stop sending me invites to fashion shows, release parties..."

    At the end of the day: If it looks like you haven’t spent the time crafting a solid pitch, why should I spend time reporting it?

  • TB

    Thursday Bram

    over 5 years ago #

    I write for numerous publications (among other projects). I'm always looking for stories; relationships are secondary.

    The biggest suggestion I can offer is don't try to get a journalist interested in crap. I routinely get press releases announcing the traffic a given site has pulled in during the past month. Who cares? Not even the site owner's mom wants to read a story about that.

    Also, don't be cute: I had a startup with a name that included the word 'mango' mail me a box of mangos without checking with me first. I don't check my P.O. box daily if I'm not expecting mail and I went about a week without checking in the middle of a hot summer. Not only was I irritated, but so were the folks at the post office. Similarly, don't try to contact journalists through any inbox but the one they obviously use. Just because I have a Facebook account doesn't mean I'm going to accept requests from random people, but I do check my email religiously.

    Lastly, journalists know what they can get published and what they can't. Offer as much access as you possibly can and you're likely to become a regular source for a writer — anytime someone says that they'll let me have a big pile of data to run my own analyses on, I get incredibly excited. That sort of offer is the key to a real relationship with a journalist, by the way: if I know I can rely on someone to get me information that I want, as well as to pitch me the stories they'd like to have covered, I'll stay in touch without any prompting.

    • MS

      Michael Sutton

      over 5 years ago #

      Hahaha, that's awful!

      Thanks for the input... (don't know whether or not your name is 'Thursday'.... would be very cool if it was). Will definitely keep that in mind :)

  • PG

    Pushkar Gaikwad

    over 5 years ago #

    Yes, the best way to connect to a journalist is through a common friend whose startup/product has been covered by them. Most of the journalists write on a certain niche, so if I am selling a marketing product, I need to connect to someone who has been covered in media and ask him for referral.

    also do explore http://www.helpareporter.com/ too, I have not used it but people say it works.

  • MD

    Marc Duke

    over 5 years ago #

    Michael there are no shortcuts. You need to track the people you want to connect to and provide them with content they will find compelling and interesting. Start with Twitter/Google+ etc and then look to provide content when you have it.

  • DD

    Dmitry Dragilev

    almost 5 years ago #

    I wrote this article on Noah Kagan's OKDork: "The 6 Step Guide to Getting Free Press for Your Startup". Should answer your question.

    http://okdork.com/2014/08/12/how-to-do-pr-for-your-startup-without-spending-any-money/

  • SW

    Sean Work

    over 3 years ago #

    Try HARO - help a reporter out ;) http://www.helpareporter.com/

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