It’s every startup’s dream - to get the attention of the people who matter. You might think that refers to customers or clients, or even venture capitalists or angel investors.
Nope. We’re talking about bloggers.
Sure, investors and customers are vital to the success of a startup business, but few things can turn your tech startup into the “it” company on everyone’s lips (and tweets) as quickly as getting mentioned by a prominent blog or blogger.
As a journalist and blogger myself, I know a thing or two about what captures the attention of the media, about what makes a founder or company interesting. Here are some tips to get you started on your attention-getting campaign - from bloggers or mainstream journalists. (While I’m concentrating on bloggers here, many of these tips could also help you get the attention of a relevant newspaper or magazine writer or columnist.)
Selecting Your Target
First, choose your target. You probably already know what blogs and bloggers matter most to your industry. Competition is fierce to get mentioned by prominent tech blogs. To make it a little easier, try also targeting blogs that aren’t tech-specific but focus on your industry.
For example, if you’ve started a website that helps people with personal finance, target financial bloggers. If your blog sells beauty products or apparel, go after beauty or fashion bloggers. You get the picture.
If you want to expand your list of blogs and bloggers beyond those you know, check out Alltop and Technorati to find the most respected and influential blogs in a wide range of fields. Ask friends and colleagues what they read, too.
Once you build a target list of blogs and bloggers, get familiar with what they cover. Bloggers can instantly recognize pitches from people who have no idea what they write about (trust me on this). Read the blog to get a sense of what aspect of your story might be most appealing.
Making the Connection
You can get in touch with bloggers in a couple of ways. One is to post comments on their blogs. Make sure they’re relevant to the topic and don’t come off too self-promotional. You want to show the blogger that you’re knowledgeable about the topic, the industry and technology.
You can also contact bloggers directly. Many will list their contact info right on their blog. If they don't, look them up on Twitter and contact them that way. (I am starting to get a lot more pitches over Twitter.) Once you get in touch, use these tips to ensure your message isn’t ignored:
• Make sure your pitch is relevant to what the blogger writes about. Someone who covers industry gossip isn’t going to do a product review. And someone who writes product reviews won’t write about how your company just got funded.
• Piggyback on recent posts. If a recent post got lots of comments and attention, is there a related but new angle you can take that makes your business newsworthy? Maybe someone just blogged about why there aren’t enough women in tech. If you’re a woman with a tech business and you have a difference of opinion, tell the blogger why and share examples from your business of why you feel that way.
• Be controversial. Speaking of women in tech, controversial issues get bloggers going (because they get readers clicking and commenting). Taking an unpopular or devil’s advocate stand on one side of an issue can get bloggers’ attention - just don’t do so unless you truly feel that way.
• Easy does it. Bloggers are insatiable beasts - they’re constantly looking for new ideas to feed the Internet’s gaping maw, and they’re always in a hurry. Make it easy for them to find the information they need to write about your business by including a Media or Press section on your website that features your press releases and any news about your business; an About section with your startup story, mission and bios of you and your team; and a Contact section with plenty of ways to reach you quickly (email, phone, Twitter, etc.).
• By the numbers. It’s sad but true: bloggers do love numbers, lists and catchy titles that get people to click on their blog posts. So pitching yourself with a “5 reasons” or “3 things” or “10 best” angle can help grab their attention.
• Be trendy. For the same reason, tying your pitches into current events - whether it's the new crowdfunding regulations under the JOBS Act or TomKat’s divorce proceedings - is also a good way to go. Watch Twitter or Google for trending topics and relate your pitches to them.
OK, so you found the Holy Grail - a mention in a hot blog. What now?
Maximize the potential by tweeting it, Facebooking it, linking to it on your website and spreading the news any way you can think of.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to thank the blogger. They’ll appreciate the recognition and it just might be the start of a beautiful friendship.