PR for Startups: The Cold Email | Founders Floor
with Conrad Egusa - CEO + Co-founder of Publicize
“I think the beauty of PR is that, inherently, it’s kind of a free marketing tool that people can use.”
Emailing a top tech journalist is not necessarily difficult. Appearing credible when they don’t know you, is. Tech journalists need certain elements to create a story, and tech PR firms know what to supply them with to obtain media coverage.
If you don’t use a PR agency for startups, you will need to come across as credible. This means being able to supply tech journalists with the interest and information they need for their story.
We held a Startup Workshop here at Founders Floor, as part of one of our startup events, and had co-founder and CEO of Publicize, Conrad Egusa, teach us how to do online PR for startups.
Before he and co-founder, Eddie Arrieta founded their tech PR agency, Conrad was a writer for VentureBeat. His experience as a writer, also contributing to the likes of TechCrunch, brought him to rethink how to approach tech startup PR.
“It was basically at that point that I decided, how can I deconstruct the media process? And how can I create a process that would allow anyone, even if they didn’t have prior business success, to use to get media coverage? Everything that I recommend here is all things that any person can use and do effectively.”
When you contact media, there are two things you need:
- An email – The purpose of the email pitch is to sell a journalist on why they should cover your story.
- A press release – The purpose of the press release is, once somebody decides to cover the story, to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
We’re going through the email today, stay tuned for our article on writing press releases.
The Cold Email Pitch
Below is the framework to use in a cold email pitch to a tech journalist. Conrad breaks it down into four sections.
1. Social proof
Impressive social proof.
This is where you bring in your Ivy League education. Didn’t go to an Ivy League school? There are plenty of other ways to name drop – have you worked somewhere significant like Google or been part of a well-regarded accelerator program? It should be instantly identifiable to your target audience.
Interesting social proof.
Great PR often pulls out a gem that no one was expecting. This can be more difficult to identify when you’re so close to yourself and your company. Unexpected works well. If you’re a 15-year-old developer, or a 65-year-old founder, or a former sports star, you’re well on your way. While not everyone building a startup is going to be a 15-year-old LeBron James, there will be information about your life that you can use.
“Every person has those one or two things that are either interesting or impressive about yourself that you can lead with.”
2. Include social handles
At the least, this should be LinkedIn and Twitter. There are a lot of fake stories that are being sent out, and you won’t have a prior relationship with most of the people that you contact. To mitigate “stranger danger,” include a link to your LinkedIn. You’re saying, “Hey, I’m putting my name behind this story. We may not know each other, but we probably have some mutual connections.”
3. Address the journalist by name in the subject line
Personalization = higher open rates. We see this ourselves with our email marketing. A journalist might receive a few hundred emails per day. They are going to skim to avoid spam, and anything with their name on it is instantly more credible.
4. Communicate via email
This part of the framework might seem fairly obvious. The focus of this article is the cold email, after all. However, with all the methods of communication out there, it is essential to recognize that good old-fashioned email still does the trick. Even Publicize, one of the top tech PR companies in the game will often communicate via email for the companies they’re representing.
To save you serious time on the internet, they compiled the ultimate tech journalist email list, packed full of top tech journalists at big-name media outlets. Use this list of tech journalists to research more into the types of stories they like to cover before you email.
That’s it. The key to this is to think like a journalist. Look through the list of email addresses and take a look at the stories they write about startups. Identify the impressive and interesting social proof they use and start to apply this to yourself to nail the art of cold emailing tech journalists.
Watch the talk
Our Startup Speaker
CEO + Co-founder, Publicize
Conrad Egusa is the Founder & CEO of Publicize, the Startup PR Company. He works with many startups from Y Combinator, 500 Startups, and other accelerators.
Conrad is a contributor writer at TechCrunch and earlier he was a writer for VentureBeat.
He and his company have been featured in many publications including The Financial Times, Bloomberg, TechCrunch, Forbes, The Next Web, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Magazine, etc.
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