Many tech startups dream about getting into a popular tech blog like TechCrunch. The benefits of getting a write-up in the blog are legendary. They almost go without saying but let’s take a moment for a quick review:
• Awareness from potential investors
• Buzz among your targeted customers
• First-to-market leadership
• Spike in website traffic
• Overall brand awareness & credibility
• Search engine rankings boost
With benefits like these above it probably won’t come as a surprise that it’s damn hard for a startup to actually get covered by TechCrunch – even for ones represented by seasoned PR practitioners!
The simple truth is if your startup is not announcing a round of funding in excess of $2 bazillion, or you are not part of a dream team of tech celebrities, then it’s going to be steep climb up the TechCrunch mountain.
But don’t be despondent. I put together some tricks of the PR trade to give your startup a fighting chance at getting into the iconic tech blog. Most of these have been tested by me and have worked on more than one occasion. None are foolproof, however, as a lot depends upon your timing and how busy a blogger is when you reach out. Here they are:
Hot tech trend: find a hot tech trend your startup relates to and work it into the subject line of your pitch to the TechCrunch blogger. Be sure there’s a legitimate tie or you won’t make any friends at the blog by embellishing the truth.
Celebrity investor: it always helps if you have an investor or co-founder with strong startup pedigree, somebody with a certain celebrity status within the tech world at large or your niche industry in particular. A co-founder of a previous successful startup with a massive exit would be even better – like that Jack Dorsey dude who co-founded Twitter and Square.
Hard launch: your hard launch could potentially be newsworthy if it it’s still early in the life cycle of a particular technology – think anonymous apps (Unseen and Ello come to mind) or mobile health (thanks in part to new iOS 8.0 Health monitoring functionality).
Downloads: one metric that can trigger an article in TechCrunch is the number of downloads your app has experienced since its launch. That said, if your total downloads are less that 100k or you’re not seeing 10k in weekly downloads (or some other eye-popping stat) then you’re not likely to impress the “seen-it-all” bloggers at TechCrunch.
Big Picture trend: what if your app addresses an urgent issue like terrorism or a global health crisis like the Ebola virus? Then make sure you tell the blogger in the subject line: “New app uses algorithm to map Ebola’s spread in Africa, anticipates new outbreaks,” or “Mobile app uses crowdsourcing to detect and prevent domestic terrorism – at least in Texas.”
Wire release: if you are serious about getting attention for your press release and want show TechCrunch how serious you are about your announcement then consider using the wire to distribute your news to the tech media at large.
Exclusive: going the wire route also has a secondary benefit – negotiating an “exclusive” with a TechCrunch blogger to be the first to post the breaking news the day the release goes live. It’s an old PR trick and never hurts to throw out in case a TechCrunch blogger has an itchy typing finger.
App for Apple iPhone 6: this falls under Big Picture trending news or hot tech trends but has becomes its own category given how momentous the latest iPhone 6 launch has become. Your app needs to stand out in some important way, perhaps taking advantage of brand new technology inherent in the new iPhone 6 platform.
Radical technology: it kind of goes without saying but if you are first-to-market with a radical technological breakthrough then be sure to get the point across in the title of your news pitch to TechCrunch. Sometimes a radical technology is just a repurposing of existing technology with fresh coat of marketing slapped on, and that works, too. Think Oculus Rift or Facebook, neither of which were first-to-market but have become dominant forces in their space. Kind of ironic that Facebook bought Oculus, isn’t it?
Getting a write-up in TechCrunch will be an uphill battle for the vast majority of startups. Most start out as bootstrapped ventures with minimal to no funding after all. But don’t let that dampen your dreams. You wouldn’t be in a startup unless you believed deep inside your entrepreneurial bones that your innovation has made the world better, safer, funnier, more efficient, faster, etc.
I strongly urge you to employ some of the tactics above – on your own or with the help of a skilled PR practitioner – as you just may find your startup on the first page of TechCrunch basking in the glow of the world’s technorati.
About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer is one of the only agencies in the country specializing in technology, healthcare and energy PR to provide blended performance-based pricing. To contact Dave directly, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.