VentureBeat helps us close out the private beta period…and my thoughts on pitching bloggers and media
VentureBeat calls us “opinions super-site.” I like it, even though I didn’t come up with it.
VentureBeat just posted a great overview of the information out there on UpTake (formerly Kango) to date while we’ve been in private beta, and shared (with our permission) the launch date, May 14. We’re getting close! The team is really excited!
The post called us an “opinions super-site” for travel. I like it! I love this description and wonder why none of us ever thought of this term! But, in fact, that is exactly what we are doing: aggregating opinions and word of mouth. This is open-source marketing at its best…
This post is a great close to our private beta period, and I’m getting nostalgic about this period already!
…and some thoughts on press and blogger outreach since that’s what I’m doing right now before our May 14 announcement
As we’ve been moving into high gear in preparation for our launch, we’ve been touching base with a diverse group of mainstream media, tech and travel industry press and bloggers. For other startups, I would like to propose this:
Elliott’s proposed Golden Rule of PR and Blogger Outreach:
If you don’t think you can learn something from a reporter or blogger, then you probably shouldn’t be pitching them.
In figuring out who to contact, I’ve been asking myself these Golden Questions:
- Can I learn anything interesting by reading their blog?
- Are there posts that relate to our story? If they wrote about us, what other previous posts on their blog could they link to?
- If I were them, what would my post be about? How would I make it unique and fit the focus of their blog?
This is much harder work than a massive email blast. But back to the Golden Rule. Talk to people that you can learn from. Don’t talk to people that have nothing to teach.
Pitchmeme: Teh tricky new world of pitching bloggers and media
I’ve been on Twitter following the growing “pitchmeme” of bloggers complaining about PR people. Follow enough people on Twitter and you’ll hear the complaints. So for all the other startups, let me save you some pain and suffering and provide you with some pointers on how to pitch and how not to pitch from bloggers and the experts themselves:
If you only read 1 post, read this one from Brian Solis. He sums up the opinions of Marshall Kirkpatrick, Adam Ostrow, Tom Forenski, Robert Scoble, Merlin Mann, and Allen Stern. Guess what? They all want you to do something different! Read this post!
In Five Wrong Ways to Pitch RWW and One Great Way, Marshall outlines these 5 no-no’s:
- Email the wrong email address
- Phone calls
- Twitter, Especially DM
A Great Way to Do It: By RSS. Wow. A great idea. Bloggers live inside of Google Reader. Why not send them info via RSS feedreader? Of course this doesn’t handle embargo’ed news like what we will be announcing May 14!
By the way, if you really want to irk ReadWriteWeb, call them “RRW” instead of “RWW”!
If you’re pitching Louis Gray, you can only pitch me in reverse polish notation or pig latin. Louis is one of my favorite bloggers but the UpTake story just doesn’t fit into his coverage area of RSS addicts, FriendFeed addicts, Twitterholics, and the earliest of the early adopters. He covers Stowe Boyd, Robert Scoble (2007), and Marshall Kirkpatrick’s directions.
So what do we have here, just in these three examples? We have three prominent bloggers with three very highly differentiated, inefficient ways of soliciting engagement with public relations and companies…
Do you really think companies are going to remember to pitch Marshall at ReadWriteWeb via RSS and Stowe Boyd by TwitPitch and Scoble by Facebook? Knowing PR companies, I know they won’t. Most of them still believe in the spray and pray method of e-mailing all contacts under the sun. There needs to be change, but making everybody jump through hoops while losing the personal engagement, exclusivity and timing won’t work.
Anyway, Scoble (2008) moved on from Facebook and now wants to get the pitches by Twitter. But not DM in twitter, @ message him. And if you don’t know what I just said, you’re hosed cause you aren’t on Twitter!
On What Tom Could Learn from Facebook, Chris gently chides Tom of Cxxxx who blasted him an embargo’ed press release without permission: “Opt in. SOCIAL network. It’s about getting to know me before you fart in my face.”
Chris then offers some insight (with my paraphrase) into Some Differences Between Pitching Mainstream Press and Bloggers:
- Bloggers often write from passion. This is a huge insight. Many bloggers do it as a labor of love for the topic. This can be different from some journalists covering a beat in a professional capacity.
- Bloggers have a bit more ego feeding required. take an effort to understand “what makes a certain blogger tick,” accordin to Chris.
- Bloggers like free prize inside experiences. What can you do to give me something special?
- Bloggers don’t have to be polite. (Then again I don’t have to pitch impolite people!)
TIP FOR MARKETERS AND PR PEOPLE: Best way to really grok this is to just start blogging. That’s what I did at CNReviews on China-related topics that have nothing to do with UpTake.
Simple. Use email. Don’t use Facebook. And no matter what don’t use Plaxo!
Adam Ostrow of Mashable and ReadBurner fame offers 12 tips for getting your Statup Featured on Mashable:
- Be a cool product
- Fit into Mashable’s “coverage universe”
- Have not already been covered to death elsewhere
- Submit to our Startup Review series
- Personalize your pitch
- Be concise
- Come to our events…and pitch us your story in-person
He also offers 12 things not to do when pitching a story to Mashable:
- Sending an invite from your app
- referencing your media coverage on Mashable Competitors X, Y, Z
- Private Message on Social Network
- Trying a Backdoor…in other words, use their intake email at news@mashanble .com
- Contacting Pete.
- Unsolicited Phone CAalls
- USING ALL CAPS
- Misspelling our Names. Kristen Nicole i s Kristen, not Nicole. and Not Kristin either.
- Trying to Setup a Lunch.
- Not Including a URL
- Not Offering a Preview of Your Private Beta
- Pitching Old News.
Great advice, Adam.
Here’s a Johnson and Johnson Blogger Relations disaster. Don’t throw an all-expenses paid blogger junket for Moms called Baby Camp and then disinvite bloggers for needing to attend BlogHer, having a breastfeeding baby, or a slung baby.
Don’t pitch Stowe Boyd except via Twitter. And here’s how:
Basically, I want companies to get their story down to a one-liner ‘escalator’ pitch — like 10 seconds long — which is going to force them to drop the superlatives and buzzwords and get to the heart of the matter.
A twitpitch takes the following form:
1. A twitter message of the form “@stoweboyd [pitch goes here without the brackets] #twitpitch”. (Note the #hashtag means that these will be accessible at www.hashtags.org/tag/twitpitch.)
2. A second, optional twitter of the form “@stoweboyd [single URL goes here without the brackets] #twitpitch”. Just one URL, please.
3. A third, optional twitter of the form “@stoweboyd [proposed time(s) to meet or call go here without the brackets] #twitpitch”.
Twitpitches that work — that interest me enough to warrant spending some time to find out more — will be retwittered on my @stoweboyd account, and here on my blog.
OK, not sure how this works for embargo’ed news. I’m confused. So I guess we won’t be talking to Stowe until the press release is out! Or maybe I’ll try twitpitching and just see what happens.
Fellow startup entrepreneurs, welcome to the new world of the pitchmeme! And watch out for our news on May 14!