In the “good, ole days” of news media, there were a limited number of outlets and a limited number of ways to reach reporters. There were three or four TV stations to choose from, about the same number in AM radio and, if you were lucky, a choice of two newspapers (usually morning and afternoon editions). Today, the number of TV and radio outlets has exploded and there may or may not be a lone newspaper. Blogs are taking the place of print newspapers.
Many people may think of bloggers as social recluses feverishly tapping out their manifestos from tenements or parents’ basements. But the term “blog” encompasses everything from professionally run websites like TechCrunch, Huffington Post and Business Insider (with readership numbers The New York Times can only dream of) to enthusiast blogs that home in on every interest imaginable – and have fans who rely on them for all sorts of purchasing decisions.
Clearly, if you’re an entrepreneur trying to get your startup off the ground, you need to appeal to both the professional and enthusiast bloggers to help you spread the word. When the world revolved around ABC, CBS and NBC, a simple fax or telex might have done the trick (kids, if you don’t know what those are, ask your grandparents) or, failing that, maybe a phone call. Today, it’s much trickier, particularly with the enthusiast bloggers (sometimes called “mommy bloggers”). They often work from home, even when contributing to major websites; they rarely make their phone numbers public; and they certainly don’t have fax or telex machines. How, then, do you reach them?
1. Get to know them.
This always bears repeating: Before contacting any reporter or blogger, read some of their past work so you know whether they even write about what you’re pitching in the first place. This also means addressing them individually, not as “Dear Blogger.”
2. Check their websites.
This may sound obvious, but sometimes we fail to see the easiest methods. Websites like TechCrunch often have a group email, such as info@, or – in TechCrunch’s case – tips@. While you might think emails to these accounts just go into the trash, they are often the best way to ensure your pitch gets to the reporter most interested in your topic.
Failing that, look to see if the site has a form you can fill out. Be wary of including URLs or other links in forms, however, as some firewalls will block your message, thinking that it’s spam.
Finally, scroll to the bottom of the site’s homepage and see if there is an About, Staff or Contact page. Often times, you’ll be able to drill down and find the best reporter for your story by yourself.
3. Check their social media.
If you know exactly who you want to contact, try looking on Twitter or Facebook for them. You may get lucky and find they have their email as part of their profile information. If the email address isn’t there, consider sending a DM (direct message) on Twitter or a message on Facebook.
But, before doing so, give it a good, hard think. This reporter is a potential highly valuable contact for your business, and not everyone appreciates being contacted by strangers via their social media accounts, just as not everyone appreciates telemarketers calling them at dinner time. If you really, really, REALLY need to reach them via this method, open with an apology for intruding, ask if they’re open to being pitched via that channel, then do nothing until you get a response.
4. Insert yourself into the conversation.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing the Internet version of a cold call, try giving the blogger what he or she could really use: comments. Whether you’re leaving comments on the blog page itself or are taking part in social media conversations, leaving genuine input is a great way to form a relationship with a sought-after writer. Once you become a known person instead of a faceless query, the blogger will probably be much more open to being pitched.
Hopefully, these tips will help you along the way to getting media coverage for your startup. If you have any ideas that weren’t covered, or any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.