How to build a press list that gets you coverage

Finding relevant bloggers, gathering their emails, and organizing a press list

If you’re bootstrapping a product, getting attention for it at launch can be hard as you don’t necessarily have the capital to invest in marketing and promotion.

While working at Tiny Hearts I’ve had the opportunity to launch a number of apps. All of which were bootstrapped, and all of which grew and sustained growth mainly through press outreach.

Now, building a targeted press list full of relevant writers will not guarantee you receiving press coverage. But it is one of many steps that will improve your chances.

In this piece I’ll walk you through my process for finding relevant writers, finding bloggers emails and contact information, and organizing your press list.

Finding the right writers

Finding the right writers is the hardest part about securing press. There are hundreds of writers at any given publication, and there may only be one or two writers who would be a good fit to write about your product.

Setting up mental filters before you start searching is a quick way to decide whether a writer is a good fit. For example, when searching for writers to pitch my app Leet, I used the following filters:

  • Do they write about gaming?
  • Do they write about apps?
  • Are they an influencer?
  • Are they active/posted recently?

Now that you have your filters, you can go out and find the writers you’re looking for.

Searching for the right blogs

I always begin by doing a larger blanket search on Google — something like: top gaming blogs.

I also set up Google Alerts for specific keywords relevant to the product I’m looking to promote.

My personal Google Alerts for Leet

Google Alerts are sent daily and include articles related to the keywords you entered. These articles are a great way to find who’s writing about these topics, and to keep up with the industry your product resides in.

If you’re skeptical if a blog is relevant to your product, use the Google site: query to find articles written with specific keywords. When I would search for relevant writers for our app Emoji Party, I would query blogs for articles about emojis.

Google site query for TechCrunch articles about emoji

Finding those emails

Ok, so you’ve found the writers you want to cover your product launch, but now how do you get in contact with them?

The tip@bigtechblog.com emails are useless, but from time-to-time we may cc: the tip email in our pitch to a specific writer.

It’s obvious that a lot of writers tend to hide their emails from the public, and for good reason. But if you can find it, it gives you a one-way ticket directly to their inbox, which can help you stand out from the crowd.

So here’s how we do it.

Get the right tools

The following tools are crucial to finding peoples email.

Rapportive pulls-in LinkedIn details in real-time. This is a quick way to verify an email:

Name2Email is the best thing since sliced bread. It takes the guess work out of finding emails by automatically listing the most common email combinations. All you do is enter the persons name followed by the domain. Hover over the various emails to find the person you’re looking for:

Use the Googles

Google’s Site: search query can also come in handy when searching for emails.

Many bloggers get pitched on Twitter, and often send their email via a tweet. A quick Google query will surface these tweets:

Building your press list

Leet Press List

Now you need somewhere to store all of your potential writers. I prefer to house these in Google Sheets in the following format:

  • First Column: Priority indicator
  • Second Column: Writers name
  • Third Column: Company name
  • Fourth Column: Twitter handle
  • Fifth Column: Email address
  • Sixth Column: Notes (interesting relevant things about the person)
  • Seventh Column: References (a link the article that made me feel they were relevant)

Go rule the world

There you go! Now you have all the tools, tips, and tricks for finding relevant press, capturing emails, and organizing your press list.

I would suggest building your press list as close to your product launch as possible. These lists tend to become stale over-time as writers move on to other more relevant topics.

The last thing to remember is that this is only one piece of the puzzle. The next step is having a solid product that is news worthy.

If you have any other tips or tricks, feel free to share them in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter!

Corey is a co-founder of Leet (@leet_app), an app for gamers to share their best gameplay highlights. He’s also a Product Designer @TinyHeartsApps and mod of the #gaming Slack community.