How do you reach out to media/journalists for coverage of your startup?

Sisi Liu
18 replies
As a founder of a bootstrapped startup, I don't have the money to hire a big PR firm for paid media coverage. Is it possible to cold email reporters/journalists in the relevant sectors to get organic coverage? Really appreciate anyone here who can share their lessons and wisdom, in particular to the following questions: 1) Is it better to start with a long or short email? (A short email might not be able to tell a differentiated story but no one has the patience to read long emails these days.) 2) What should be my specific ask in the first email? (To connect seems too generic. To cover our company seems too big an ask. To stay in touch seems no action item at all!) 3). What can I offer in return as a startup founder? (Good relationships should always be mutually beneficial. In what ways can a startup founder be helpful to the journalist community? )


Yury Molodtsov
1. Find relevant reporters who wrote about this field a lot (maybe covered your competitors). 2. Decide if you want to go with a single exclusive article (bigger chance to land a big publication) or an embargoed outreach (you might get more coverage if you tell ask them to accept a certain embargo time/date first but they also might pass more easily). 3. Write a short pitch that tells a story. You should have some news: a launch, coming out of beta, new major release, etc. Don't ask just to connect, reporters have no time for that. You can provide more details in the end of the email where they can dig if they like your pitch but you have to explain the news in the first paragraph. 4. Don't use too many adjectives and don't use buzzwords. State the problem you're solving, why it's important, where you are on that journey. 5. You offer them news. They need good news to write about. That's the entire exchange. If you can offer them some stats on the market nobody else knows that would be good (if you have them of course). Don't worry, if one day they need an expert to comment they might reach out to you by themselves, don't push it. 6. Follow-up. There's a high chance they haven't seen your email. I landed an article on TechCrunch after the 4th email. But don't be pushy, if you tracked they saw your email or clearly said "pass" – that's a no. Happy to answer any additional questions.
Sisi Liu
@y_molodtsov Thanks Yury for your very thoughtful comment! It's awesome you landed an article on Techcrunch! Can I ask you what tool do you use to track if they saw your email?
Yury Molodtsov
@sisi_l You can use any on the market, you can use Snovio (
Jack Cooper
@sisi_l Or as Mark Twain said, "I didn't have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead." It's indeed difficult to distill your story down to a few sentences, but you can do it! The key is to be aspirational, yet specific. I worked in PR and advertising for years and the most compelling stories being told had big goals but small details. For example: It's not "the best razor in the world," but rather, "the best razor in the world for men with sensitive skin." In our case with Brain Pick, it's not "a new way to share professional advice", but rather, "a new way to earn supplemental income letting people pick your brain on video chat." Hope that helps! JC
Sisi Liu
@jack_cooper Thank you Jack. Your expertise in PR/advertising clearly shows :). The examples really help! They gave me good food for thought.
Couple of days ago Jonapr came out, if you have an app you can take a look at the-ultimate-top-100-list-of-websites-and-blogs-to-get-your-app-reviewed
Axel DeAngelis
I highly recommend Cameron Herold and Adrian Salamunovic's book, Free PR. The title is pretty self-explanatory, and I think you'll find some good insight on all of your questions in there.
Sarah Loertscher
As an addition to all the aforementioned advice, you can also sign up for HARO ( as a source. Just sign up for the general newsletter, don't sign up for specific ones or stories that may be relevant to you might get missed. This email goes out 3x day connecting reports who need sources with, you guessed it, sources (you!). It's a good way see what trends are and you might be able to connect with a reporter on a relevant topic.