Sunday Letters to Startups: Don’t Beg For Press

Sunday Letters to Startups: Don’t Beg For Press

Over the last several months, I have been pitched hundreds of times in person and via email by startups. I have been surprised at the polish of college undergrads with a killer Kickstarter project and appalled by the behavior of others who are somehow the Silicon Valley darling of the week. As I pick through emails and calendar in coffee meetings, I find lessons that could be learned by others as I cover the emerging tech and startup scene in Seattle. This week kicks off the first editions of Sunday Letters to Startups.

Earlier this week,  I received an email from the CEO of a startup in Seattle. Omitting any identifying information (my goal here is to help, not be that girl), here it is in entirety:

Hello Kelly,

My name is Joe and I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of A Wanna Be Famous App, here in Seattle,WA. I follow you on Twitter and I got some press recently from A FAMOUS TECH BLOG and I would like to know if you could please write about my startup and to share it with your readers? I’m a big fan of Forbes so it would be a dream come true.

Our website is (here), and our iPhone app demo video on YouTube is (here).

The link to our article on FAMOUS TECH BLOG is here: (link

Thank you,

Joe

I’ll give Joe some credit – he knows my niche, which is more than I can say for 75% of other emails I receive. That said, Joe did little to persuade me why I should spend anywhere between 1-4 hours of my time to write about his Wanna Be Famous App. Citing previous coverage in a FAMOUS TECH BLOG can be insulting, as – let’s face it – who wants to get the sloppy seconds. Additionally, there is something to be said about only getting coverage in ONE “famous tech blog” – traditionally, news about the next Gonna Be Famous App is copied (almost verbatim) by all the other Famous Tech Blogs so they can hit Techmeme- or is picked up soon thereafter. And if it’s not, that “exclusive” scoop has meaning. Tell me what that is. Don’t make me go read the whole damn article to figure it out.

A pitch via email should include, in the email, why I should care. I am not going to spend 20 minutes watching YouTube videos, reading other press coverage, or scanning your Twitter account. Give me a quick paragraph about what you’re doing and why it matters.

And whatever you do, don’t beg. Especially if you’ve failed on all of the above. Relying on desperation for major press coverage means your email will be ignored, because I know your Wann Be Famous App has no other ground to stand on and talking with you will be – I hate to say it – a waste of my time.

And yes, I do not respond to every email. In this case, I am that girl – especially if you contact me begging for press. Just don’t do it.