There’s a bevy of startups and new ideas clamoring for press attention these days, and unless you have funding or a big name, it can be difficult to get coverage for your company. Through some hustle and a bit of luck, we got Fast Company to pick up Attentiv’s launch story. Here’s how it happened.
In February, we opened Attentiv up to beta users. Our goal was to spend a couple months gathering feedback from our beta group and then fully launch in April.
With that launch date in mind, I started researching different news outlets with the goal that one of them would cover Attentiv’s launch. I looked at the readership statistics for almost all of the major online news outlets, prioritizing them by traffic numbers and by whose readership most closely aligned with our customer profile.
We decided that Mashable and Fast Company would be our best bets with TechCrunch and Business Insider as the next best. Forbes and WSJ were our moonshots.
Now I just had to find the right reporter. I looked through each outlet’s archives to find reporters who wrote about technology and startups, and then narrowed my search down to reporters who specifically wrote about meeting psychology or technology used in the office. I was left with only a few reporters per outlet.
To begin engaging with our chosen reporters and to learn more about their beats, we used personal Twitter accounts to follow and retweet them. I’m still not sure if this helped at all, but at the very least, it helped to know what each reporter had been writing about when it came time to start crafting my pitch.
Halfway through March, I began to write custom pitches for each journalist. I noticed that the the topic of ‘introverts’ was seeing a lot of press, in part because of the book Quiet‘s success. Enabling introverts is one of Attentiv’s purposes, so I decided that I could naturally tie this introvert trend into my pitch. I modified each pitch to reflect the journalist’s beat and the articles he/she had recently written, but much of the content was the same.
Then, I started emailing. It was always nerve wracking hitting the send button (I reread each email 20 times looking for typos). If they didn’t reply in 24 hours, I would send the pitch to the next journalist.
At first, nobody replied! But we didn’t give up. About 5 days later, I followed up with all of the reporters I had emailed and added some more detail as to why our story was a good fit for their readership and news beat. I also made sure to indicate that I was offering an exclusive story in the pitch, and that I would hold the story specifically for them.
Almost immediately after my second email, our target reporter at Fast Company responded.
We had to wait about a week until the reporter’s editor approved the story. From there, the reporter sent over a list of interview questions via email. We spent a lot of time wordsmithing our answers to have the best information, facts, and soundbites before we responded (the reporter gave us a 3 day deadline). Then the reporter followed up with a brief call and let us know when our story was scheduled to go live. See the finished product below.
What happened when the story went live? See a screenshot of our analytics below (with the article going live on April 9th). The article was shared over 1,300 times, well above the average for Fast Company’s typical articles on software! Our story was even the featured article on Fast Company’s homepage for a few hours. About 3,500 unique visitors came to our website as a result, so the article was not a huge traffic driver. But, we did see an average session duration of 2 minutes with those users and a low 57% bounce rate. Also, our conversion rate was an excellent 9.8%! We were also able to leverage the article into coverage from 2 more news outlets: Technical.ly and Mason News.
- Pick your target news outlets and research specific reporters from each.
- Offering an exclusive is important! Reporters want to know that their story isn’t being blasted all over the internet. From what I’ve heard, many don’t even consider non-exclusive pitches.
- Cater your pitch. If your email is just a template with no journalist-specific language, it probably won’t grab their attention.
- Reporters respond almost immediately. If they don’t reply within the first half hour or so, they’re probably not replying to that email.
- Follow-up. Some reporters receive thousands of emails a day and it is possible that your pitch just got lost in their inbox jungles.
- If you do get press, keep the train running and leverage it to drive more coverage. You can target regional news outlets, alumni newsletters, interview websites, etc.
Have you gotten press? Let us know how in the comments below.
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