8 Smart Ways to Pitch a Tech Journalist

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Who better to ask about pitching to tech journalists… than an actual tech journalist? Here are the best ways to gain the recognition you deserve. By John Brandon (Contributing Editor, Inc.com)

This post originally appeared on Inc.com

You've built a brand new mobile app or a gadget that will change the world. You've hired a PR agency to help you get the word out. You're goal is to attract the attention of the media and generate some interest with actual paying customers. Now what?

I've been called one of the most productive journalists working today, which is a nice way of saying I might be a little jaded and probably need to take more vacations. I receive hundreds and hundreds of PR pitches. Safe to say, most of these end up in a Gmail tab marked "Promotions" and summarily ignored. (I'm really sorry about that. Blame it on the Mountain View tech giant.) Yet, there are ways PR agents have devised to raise awareness for a new product. Here are a few that worked on me.

1. Send a Vine

This one works. I love it. You create a Vine showing your product or service in some unique way and then send it as a link on Twitter or by e-mail. Of course, you have to make sure the video is engaging and point out how the click is worth the time.

2. Send a DM

In lieu of a Vine selling the product, a direct message is another good way to pitch an idea because so few people use that method. There's a chance the DM will get lost in social media clutter, but not if the journalist uses a tool like Sprout Social that flags them.

3. Go Old School with a Letter

You'd be surprised how little snail mail I get these days. (On the opposite end of the spectrum, I do tend to see FedEx and UPS almost every day.) A handwritten letter says you took the time to write a note, find an envelope (remember those?) and pitch a product.

4. Meet in Person

Depending on how far you have to travel, showing up in person means you can demonstrate the product or service, chat about the benefits, and maybe get a cup of coffee. I've had only a few PR reps try this approach and it's one that can also backfire if I'm on a tight deadline. Make sure you schedule it first!

5. Skype me

It's not terribly difficult to find my Skype handle. I recommend scheduling this video chat, but you can also use Skype for quick instant messaging chats. It's worth noting that most of us don't have Skype up and running at all times, but I use it on my phone more often these days.

6. Create a Facebook ad

You'd be surprised how targeted you can get with a Facebook ad for the product – right down to the field of work, the location, the age… you get the idea. I won't comment on how much to spend, but Facebook offers very low pricing for one basic, highly targeted ad.

7. Send a Highly Personalized Email

Every journalist working today gets inundated with email pitches, and most of them end up in the virtual equivalent of the circular bin. Sending a personal email is a great way to avoid that. Ask about the weather or a local sports team – it's amazing how that creates interest.

8. Do a Virtual Meeting

If a road-trip is out of the question, go ahead and try a Google Hangout or something on Join.me. What I like about virtual meetings is that they are visual – that is, I can see exactly how the product works and ask questions. These virtual meet-ups tend to be shorter than other meetings. Also, try this business advice portal and search for the journo there.

Check out more from Inc.com:

How to Give a Flawless Elevator Pitch 10 Elements of a Savvy Pitch Email 4 Easy Ways for Startups to Get Media Coverage Photo credit: Mathias Richter via Shutterstock.


About the guest blogger: John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com. In 2001, after working as an IT manager for a large corporation in Minneapolis for several years, he jumped ship and started writing full-time. Follow his personal blog at byjohnbrandon.com. Send him story ideas at jbrandon@inc.com.