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Getting onto TechCrunch

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 17th September 2008

Going through my feedreader looking at posts I had missed whilst away on holiday for the last few weeks, I came across a post by Techcrunch UK’s Mike Butcher in which he reveals the top 15 ways to get covered by him on TCUK. It’s important reading for anyone involved in the startup space and for  PRs.

Mike freely admits that the inspiration for his post was Jason Calacanis and a recent scribe on his (now infamous) email list. Following Mike’s original post, French entrepreneur Loïc Le Meur also posted a follow-up, which too is worth reading.

Mike, Jason and Loïc are all obviously approaching this theme from a certain standpoint.  But, despite this, there are some really interesting issues raised in the three posts that I wanted to pull out and discuss.

  1. Journalists are “self-serving” – an obvious point from Mike but one that is often neglected by PRs and clients/vendors/startups. Journalists are part of a business like everyone else (a business that is getting more competitive every day). Give them something that makes them look good and gives them competitive advantage.
  2. Go for the niche – This is one of Jason’s comments: “embrace small media outlets”. Too many PRs and clients get caught up chasing that elusive double page in the FT that is 99.9% of the time never going to happen. Often this is a waste of time, money and effort on all parts. Much better to target smaller publications or outlets that have a smaller but dedicated and targeted readership.
  3. Start a conversation – This is a theme that is picked up on each post. Try and have meaningful conversations with journalists and influencers (bloggers included). This is easier said than done and I would also point out that a two-way conversation is just that. If some ‘influencers’ put more effort into communicating rather than moaning about PRs, both industries would possibly work better as a result. But as Mike states, the reverse is also true – companies (and PRs) that don’t read, listen or communicate (i.e. only ‘send’) will have a hard time being heard: “Yes, Kevin Rose lives for Digg and Loic Le Meur goes on and on about Seesmic. But they also put real content into the marketplace as well. They are active commentators.” PRs that do not read and understand what individual writers or publications are interested in/focused on, cannot complain when journalists or bloggers get fed up or annoyed by their poorly targeted pitching.
  4. The Purple Cow – Having just read Seth Godin’s book (I will blog on it soon), this is a fundamental point. The best PR in the world is only ever going to be as good as the story he/she has to work with. Having something interesting and ‘news-worthy’ to say to your target audience is vital. [The bit in italics is important as a story that is news-worthy to one journalist or outlet or blog will not be to another.]

So what does all this mean for the PR industry? For me, Mike hits the nail on the head:

“The best PRs behave like the best contacts – they keep in contact, float ideas, check if something is of interest before bothering to send you a full-blown release, etc etc.”

It’s all basic stuff but so often gets ignored.