Hi my name is Dan Shipper I’m a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and over the past 7 months I’ve been covered in TechCrunch (here), Mashable (here), TheNextWeb (here) and others for projects I’ve built both as a solo developer and with a team of my friends.
1. Email everyone you know
The absolute best way to get coverage from any media outlet is to know someone who works there, or know someone who knows someone who works there. Journalists, especially tech journalists, get pitched every single day by hundreds of people. Their inboxes are overflowing with emails talking about “amazing,” “world-changing,” “life-altering” startups. That means that your absolute best chance to get coverage for your project is to email everyone you know and ask them if they know anyone who writes for a big blog. Don’t be afraid to ask – the worst anyone can say is no.
2. Email every tech site you can think of
If you don’t know anyone who knows anyone that writes for a tech site, don’t worry. Compile a list of every tech site you can think of, write a pitch and email all of them. The chances of success are low, but you may get lucky. This is how we got covered in Mashable. If you have a product with traction, excited users, funding, or a really good story you’ve just beaten out 90% of the other cold emails that these blogs get. The most important part is showing in your email that you have a great story to tell that would appeal to the blog’s audience. And keep it short – generally your emails won’t be read past the first few sentences.
3. Do something outrageous
We got on TechCrunch by creating a Twitter account called YC Y U NO and making fun of a bunch of YC startups. Seriously. Now, we had no idea when we did it at first that it would lead to getting on TechCrunch. We did it on a whim just for fun. But for some reason people really seemed to like the tweets we were coming up with, a bunch of YC founders started following us as well as a few TechCrunch writers. From there we DMed one of them and they agreed to write a story about us and our new project.
4. Use Facebook and LinkedIn
Get the names of some writers that you admire, or think would be interested in covering you and see if you have any LinkedIn or Facebook connections. I know a lot of people who use this as a first step in getting coverage. You might be surprised at how many connections you have that you didn’t know about.
5. Concentrate on design
A journalist isn’t going to risk their reputation or their site’s reputation covering an app, or startup that doesn’t have amazing design. If anything is even a little bit off with how your site looks, if it doesn’t look professional and current, they won’t cover you. The design doesn’t even have to be complex. My design for WhereMyFriends.Be which was covered on Mashable was actually really minimalist. But it has to inspire enough confidence from the writer to go out on a limb for.
I think the most important thing to realize is that it’s not some insurmountable feat to get coverage. Tech sites are run by real people too, and if you show them that you have a great story, and a great product your chances of success increase exponentially. Persistence doesn’t hurt either.
That being said, don’t pin your hopes on coverage. It’s a huge rush to get it, but the road to success doesn’t always start with TechCrunch and in fact often doesn’t.
You should follow me on Twitter.