Discussion: How to get media coverage for your start-up (the right way)

How to get media coverage for your start up

Each day we get dozens of emails from entrepreneurs and start-ups announcing their new products or services, and while we love receiving these we often find that some minor mistakes can prevent us from covering a company, even if they have a brilliant product.

Sending out a press release for many start-ups is a big step – so it’s important to get the details right.  Sending out the right release to the right company at the right time gives your company the best chance at getting coverage.

We spoke with Eric Strait (@ericestrait) from Tech Hustlers for our third Week in Tech Google Hangout. We discussed these points and shared our experiences of receiving press releases from start-ups.

Here are some of our top points for getting the best media coverage for your start-up.

1. Have news to tell them

Too often a start-up will issue a press release which contains no solid information other than that they exist.  Some start-ups do this to make the media aware that they exist, but these emails are simply annoying to bloggers and writers, who receive dozens of emails each day from other start-ups (with more newsworthy content) and established companies (who are skilled at putting together writer-friendly press releases).

Issuing a press release without having news can put writers off any further releases you issue.

Eric makes the point that if you want to bring your start-up to the attention of a writer then one of the most effective thing you can do is follow them on Twitter, Google+, or subscribe to them on Facebook.  A good writer will always check out the people that follow or retweet them and might be more receptive when you do eventually send them a press release.

2. Get the details right

Before you press send on your email make sure you get the details right.  Apart  from ensuring that your spelling and grammar are correct (everyone makes mistakes, so make sure someone else reads over your press release) make sure that the other details are correct. Have you spelled the name of the publication correctly; have you spelled the name of the writer correctly?  Do links in your press release work?

But as Eric says, keep it short.  You initial email doesn’t have to contain every detail about your company, if it’s well written with a strong hook then the writers will probably contact you for more.

3. Don’t follow up too quickly (but it is okay to follow up)

Let’s say you send out your first email but you don’t get a response. It can be a good idea to follow up a few days later.  Chances are that your release just got lost amongst the reams of other emails.  Don’t, however, follow up within a few hours, this can look pushy and can be a turn off for writers.  As Eric says, be sociable but don’t be pushy.

4. Contact the right blogs

It can be tempting to issue one press release to dozens of sites in the hope that at least some of them will cover your start-up – this is a bad idea.  This is fine for larger companies such as Facebook – writers will be familiar with what they do and they know that their readers will be interested in such content.

But as a start-up your task, at least in the initial email, is to explain what you do and to sell your vision to the writer.  This means that you should have a look at the range of publications online and customise your press release of each of these.  A site such as Tech Hustlers will be interested in a different aspect of your start-up than The Sociable – by customising your content for each of these sites you are giving yourself the opportunity for more coverage.

It also allows you to build a relationship with the writers.

5. Think long term

When you are writing your initial press release try to think long term.  At the end of the release give details about what is next for your company – will you have a new product launched in a few weeks?  If so, let the writer know, so when you do issue a press release for it the writer is already primed for its contents.


  1. I’m a former newspaper editor. Here’s what start-ups need to do:
    –Make very media outlet think that your pitch is meant ONLY for them. Make the editor say, “This is perfect for our audience!”  To do that, you MUST research every media outlet before pitching! Nine out of 10 people don’t bother with this time-consuming chore. That’s why they don’t get publicity.
    –Don’t use a one-size-fits-all press release to try to get a big story in a variety of media outlets, most of which have very different audiences. Use the press release as collateral material. Send a customized email pitch to each media outlet and link to the release.
    –The ideal press release is one that explains, in the fist paragraph, how the company or the new product helps a certain target market solve a specific problem. Think problem-to-solution.

    1. @JoanStewart Thanks Joan, you’re absolutely right. I’d also add; be persistent but not demanding.  With the best will in the world we can’t do every story that passes our desk –  mostly because there aren’t enough hours in the day.
      So it’s a constant pitching process with each press release.

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).