How do I reach out to bloggers and reporters for coverage?: advice from experience

I received an email a couple weeks ago from an entrepreneur who formerly worked for a startup in Philly. He’s with a new startup in another region but asked for quick  advice on reaching out to bloggers and other journalists for coverage.

I shot back three quick thoughts:

  1. First, prove you’re a human being and not a robot. Anyone who receives press interest will at first assume any email is a mass email. Prove it’s not. Say, ‘yo, I saw you wrote about this, so I thought you might be interested in this thing I do.’ And say ‘I think it’s relevant because you seem to write a lot about this.’ Basically, the five minutes of scanning a site will bring you much stronger results, and so the success is worth the extra effort.
  2. Secondly, just make it really freakin’ easy. (a) Don’t get caught up in every nuance of what you think your business is about, give the name and the 5-10 word summation and share a few links. Then, maybe include a bit deeper graf, but not much more. (b) Offer to talk on the phone — they probably won’t want to but it again shows you’re a real person — or answer any questions via email. (c) If there is interest, provide compelling images or photos or video to make publishing online more compelling without any extra effort from the writer. (d) Help promote the thing. If you want it, push the coverage for your own benefit and for the goodwill from the publication you’re pushing.
  3. Thirdly, do do a second follow up about a week later. If no response from there, forget about it.

A small item on a niche blog or an industry site can have great power and be a start, so, in general, do not underestimate the important and influence of smaller, more focused publications online or otherwise.