How to Pitch and Get Your App Reviewed — Advice from an Ex-TNW Writer
I was a journalist/intern at The Next Web for three months, and during that time I learned what actually makes a pitch effective. Getting your app featured on popular tech websites and blogs is the best way to gain a massive amount of exposure for free — so here’s my advice on how to land a feature.
Pitching to tech journalists without a game plan in mind doesn’t drive optimal results. Before you start sending emails to just anyone (or everyone), there are three things you should do to set yourself up for success:
Have an Angle
What are you bringing to the table that hasn’t been seen before? What’s new and exciting about your app? Why should people care?
These are all questions you need to answer before approaching the press. Journalists are only looking for a unique story to drive page views, and positioning your app as a unique product that solves a need does just that.
Do Your Research
The most important step in the process of getting your app reviewed is researching the journalists you want to pitch. Sending bulk emails to every blogger and tech reporter will guarantee your email is sent straight to the trash. Instead, take the time out to read their previous articles and gauge whether your app would be of interest to them.
If they’ve written app reviews in the past, or seem to write about the industry your app is in 一frequently 一 you’ll have a better chance at landing a placement.
Create a Contact List
Forgetting who you need to reach out to and when you need to send follow up emails is common, so creating a detailed Google spreadsheet will make things easier for you to keep track of.
Here’s what you’ll want to include:
- Email address
- Website or blog name
- The date you sent the initial email
- The follow up date 一 typically one week from the first email
- Status 一 Waiting or Yes/No successful placement
- Article URL
What to Include in the Pitch
There are a few key elements to include in your pitch, but most importantly, you need to be authentic and nice. Tech journalists are in fact, real journalists and actual people, so treat them like it. They’re also doing you a favor, so be polite and don’t demand they get back to you within the next day.
But getting to the actual pitch — like any email, keep your message concise and to the point. A formula that journalists and writers use is the “Inverted Pyramid.” This style of writing prioritizes and structures content so that the reader can quickly and efficiently decipher key pieces of information.
Here are the crucial elements you need to include in every email:
- Catchy subject line: The subject line is the most important part of the email because it determines whether the journalist will open your email or skim past it. Keep it short, personal, and intriguing.
- The name of your app: Be sure to mention the name of your app with a link to the app store somewhere in the body of the email. Not mentioning the name of your app is actually a very common mistake — don’t be that guy or girl.
- Screenshots, GIFs, and/or a video: Adding visuals is the best way to show journalists what your app looks like without having to download it. (GIFS preferred)
- A brief description: You’ll want to briefly describe what your app does and what makes it unique. You should also mention who your target audience is and how this app serves them.
- Website: In your signature, you should link out to your website or crowdfunding page for more information.
- *Something free: Who doesn’t love free stuff? Giving journalists free t-shirts, a free first experience, or a free one-week trial, is never a bad idea.
*The PR team behind the POPiN app gave me a free trial and t-shirt, and in-turn they landed a TNW feature and a life-long fan.
What not to Include
- A press release: Journalists don’t have time to read through lengthy press releases. They’re only looking for key facts to support a story.
- Company information: Providing details of your company is almost always useles. This information is crucial to include in business collateral, but not in an email to the press.
- Too much contact information: Besides your email, you should only provide your Twitter profile and website as other points of contact.
- Useless information: In this case, useless means that the information will not contribute to the live article. For example, don’t mention that “everyone loves the app.”
Wakeout Case Study
Wakeout is a quirky fitness app that wakes people up by turning their beds into personal gyms. The app’s unique selling proposition was newsworthy in and of itself, but it needed an initial spark of buzz to take off.
Wakeout founder Pedro A. Wunderlich had a simple, yet extremely effective plan. He spent five days researching journalists to contact and then proceeded to reach out to 50 journalists in his niche 一 tech, health, and fitness.
From press coverage alone, Wakeout hit its goal of 10,000 new users and generated a ton of social media engagement. Wakeout also went on to secure a worldwide Apple feature that lasted a week 一 driving 210,000 more downloads.
What to Do After the Initial Email
Record everything in the contact list spreadsheet. Send a follow up email one week after the initial email, and if you still don’t hear back, odds are they are not interested. However, don’t let that stop you. The more quality journalists and niche blogs you reach out to ー the higher your chances of landing a placement.
Pitching your app to the press can be a frustrating, time-consuming process, but you only need one feature to get the ball rolling. Just be concise, compelling, and nice. Oh and don’t lead with: “We’re the Uber for (industry).”