How to write an email that’ll get your startup press
A really simple way to cold email journalists
This method has gotten my startup into TechCrunch, Mashable, ABC News, Reader’s Digest, New York Magazine and countless other publications and blogs.
What isn’t working for you
If you’re trying to get press for your startup you’ve probably emailed all those catch-all addresses. You know, “firstname.lastname@example.org,” “email@example.com,” or my favorite, “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Don’t feel bad, though, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get press from emailing a catch-all address. It’s kind of like walking outside an office building and yelling, “HI! WILL YOU HIRE ME!” with the hope that someone will say yes. You’d have much better luck if you did your research and approached the right person, introduced yourself, worked your charm, and said, “great meeting you, I’m really interested in working here!” See the difference?
How to find a relevant journalist to contact
The hard way: Scour publications, journals, blogs and find articles relevant to your startup. Hope that the journalist’s email address is easy to find. It’s not? That’s pretty common. Google their name. Check out their Twitter. Find their email address yet?
The easy way: Go to press.farm, click “Browse Journalists” and check out who‘s listed. Browse by publication and read their past articles. Like what you see? It’s only $9 to reveal all of their email addresses for a month. Promoting ourselves? Yes, totally☺
A word of warning
Okay so you have a bunch of relevant email addresses and you’re ready to get press. Maybe you’ve thought about it and maybe you’re still thinking it, but no, you can’t write one email and BCC a bunch of journalists. This won’t get you press. Sure, it’s easy and convenient but it’s ineffective…and you’ll just end up annoying people.
Writing your subject
Don’t put too much thought into this. A few examples of subjects that have worked for me:
• Story pitch: (Name of startup)
• Story pitch
• New story pitch inside
• Story idea
Your subject doesn’t have to be glamorous. Just let the journalist know what you’re writing about. Most of them are getting hundreds of emails a day, the more you help them sort it, the more likely they’ll read it.
Writing your body
Imagine you’re telling a friend at a party about your startup. Picturing it? Now write down exactly what you’d say and send it to your journalist of choice. Be quick and casual. Here are a few examples of emails that have worked for me:
I’m Jimmy and I run Sandwhich. We’re a new site out of NY that lets people rate sandwiches. Our users have rated over 50,000 since our launch last month. Believe it or not, peanut butter sandwiches are winning.
I was wondering if you’d consider writing about us?
Have you ever stepped into a puddle after you put on fresh socks? My new product, Puddlr, makes sure that never happens again. We’ve helped keep 200 pairs of socks dry in Seattle alone. I saw that you wrote about raincoats last month and thought you might be interested in this, too?
I’m launching a new website in a month that will change the way people order burritos online. I just wanted to say hi and see if you’d be interested in following our journey? Here’s a link to a private beta of Burritodrone. I’d love to see what you think.
• Don’t write a lot. It won’t be read (trust me, I’ve made this mistake)
• Don’t be overly formal
• Don’t email a bunch of journalists from the same publication at the same time (give one at least a week to respond to you)
• Don’t copy & paste or attach your press release
Getting press is really a numbers game. Sometimes you’ll write an awesome email and you won’t hear back right away…or at all. That’s okay. Journalists are really busy and are constantly bombarded with tips and pitches. They also have deadlines to meet and assigned topics to write about. Sometimes your pitch will fit in perfectly and sometimes it won’t.
Believe it or not, some of the best press I’ve received has been from journalists I’d emailed months prior. Suddenly they were writing about something relevant to my startup or their schedule freed up, or whatever!
Good luck, you’ve got this!