How to Pitch Your Startup to Tech Journalists

Tracy Sestili
Aug. 21, 2017 by Tracy Sestili

Every startup dreams of being covered in the popular tech publications. But how do you pitch to these cloud, infrastructure or dev beat reports to cover your tiny little startup when you’re vying for their attention in their inbox along with the likes of Google, Amazon or Microsoft? Tech journalists get hundreds of pitches a day.

At a recent event held by Heavybit, tech journalists from prestigious publications such as TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and eWeek shared their tips on how to pitch them. It was really insightful for startups to hear first hand from these tech journalists on what they deem valuable pitches versus cardinal sins in pitching your story. Here were some of the key takeaways:

  1. Phone calls are a no-no

    Never call them. They reserve phone calls for interviews and emergencies. If they want a comment, they’ll call you.

  2. Email them more than once

    They admitted that sometimes things get lost in their inbox. They suggested to email them no more than three times. If you haven’t heard a response after three times, then they are probably not going to cover it.

  3. Subject lines bode better with less adjectives

    Don’t use a lot of adjectives in your subject line, but be straightforward about it. Say what it is, but try not to use the words “excited” or “best” and other self-praise.

  4. Pitch etiquette

    Don’t copy and paste your press release into the body of the email. That’s a cardinal sin.

  5. Sometimes a compromise is the happiest medium

    If you really want coverage, consider settling for coverage on Mondays or Fridays when news is lighter.

  6. C-Level or Founder quotes

    When writing a story they always prefer quotes from the highest level person in the company, e.g. CEO or Founder.

  7. Don’t pitch them at events

    They consider it offensive if you’re at say, Dreamforce or AWS re:Invent and you think your news is more important than Salesforce’s or Amazon’s. It’s a turn-off to them and although you’ll be remembered as the startup who tried to pitch them at one of those major events, you might jeopardize your future chances of being covered when something major happens for your startup.

What was surprising and hard to hear, yet honest, was that they all admitted that news from larger tech giants, no matter how minor, is still more newsworthy than your startup news unless you’ve IPO’d, got acquired, got new funding, or possibly have named a new CEO.

Whilst coverage from big tech publications might not be favorable to your current situation, you may want to consider reaching out to tech bloggers who cover your space on a more regular basis. If your product, app, or service is interesting, they’ll want to cover it in some way.

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— Tracy Sestili
@tracysestili

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