How to get PR and press like a maniac

John Rampton,’s CEO, asked the audience “who wants press for their startup?” to the Sydstart audience. The answer was a resounding yes. 

Aside from being a successful entrepreneur, John also contributes articles on Forbes, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and The Huffington Post, among many others. He receives around 200 pitches a day, so John provided effective tips to get journalists to write about your startup.

You should have an amazing product.

“Who has a shitty product here?” John asked for a show of hands from the audience. John confessed to have built shitty products in the past which became a learning experience for him. He said shitty products will do nothing — no press will want to talk about that. The first thing you need when you pitch to the press is an amazing product.   

Customers are gold.

“Customers make the best story and you will never get press without them.” John said. He further explained that the press want statistics and information that is why it is very important for startups to pay attention to their customers and know everything about them. You need to ask these questions to have a good insight on your customers:

* Who are they?* What are their pains?* How do you solve their problems?* What sites do they frequent online?* How do they interact with your product?

1. Perfect the one-sentence pitch

John said you should be able to explain what your company does in three to five words. John gave AirBNB’s as an example of a good pitch, “Find a place to stay.” It’s simple, making it easy to remember and it won’t bore your audience, whether you’re talking to them or they’re reading your pitch.

On the other hand, a bad pitch, according to John, has a hundred words. It sounds all too complicated, it bored you the moment you heard or read it.  

2. Create a list of writers

When John sends out pitches, he first creates a list of writers where he puts them in a hierarchy. Being in the tech space, John’s list looks like this:

3. Write a list of 15 – 20 writers

Another tip from John is to be a good stalker. John will ‘ethically research’ a.k.a stalk 15 to 20 journalists who write about his niche for 30 days. “This gives you a lot of information about them and helps you get to know their articles,” John explained. He uses Buzzstream to additionally stalk and he follows them on Twitter. He would comment on five articles a day for 30 days. This way, you’re interacting with them and you’re becoming a part of their community.   

4. Write a pitch email

“Eighty-one per cent of press prefer to be pitched on email. We don’t like to be pitched in person.” says John, and he advised that the email should be 200 words or less. When it comes to emails, subject line is key. With 200 new emails in his inbox a day, John said he automatically deletes emails with boring subject lines. Your subject line should fit within 45-65 characters.

5. Give exclusivity

John would typically give three writers exclusivity — this is where you can use your hierarchy of tech writers. You can offer the ones on top exclusive stories first. If one of them writes about it, that’s when he emails others that they don’t have exclusivity to it anymore. If none of the first three showed interest, he would offer the exclusive story to the next three batch of writers the following day.

Here’s a sample of a pitch John has sent:

Here’s a list of details you should provide in your pitch:

* How your startup/pitch relate to what the reporter has written about before and the news today* Your startup name* Your website URL* CrunchBase Profile URL if pitching TechCrunch* Description of your startup in 75 words or fewer from your one-sentence pitch section* Possibly the founder’s bio in 75 words or fewer* Main competitors and why you’re better* Whether you have funding or don’t. If you do, from whom and how much

John threw in additional tips: Startups should know what time to reach the press. According to John, 6:30 AM – 7:30 AM is the best time to reach press, because “70% of press say they prefer to be pitched in the morning.” explained John.

On a regular basis, John would send an email to 2-3 journalists about his startup. Don’t feel rejected if they don’t get back with you. If you don’t hear from them, you can follow up, but only do it once. The last thing you want to do is annoy them with your emails.

6. Common things writers write about

John enumerated topics you can pitch:

* Launching a company* Raised funding* Large customer achievement * New product release* Acquisition of a company* Local news topics

Follow John Rampton on Twitter for more startup tips.