Should I email them, call them, reach them via Twitter? Even if I understand what they cover and explain how my startup matches what they cover, how can I get them to really listen? I am convinced they will like the startup, as it is different and awesome. Are services like PR web or Pitch Pigeon useful or a waste of time?
The art of pitching and approaching journalists and media is about adding value to their lives and about building a relationship with them. I'm a veteran PR and one of our agencies core services is PR for start-ups. We have placed our clients in NY Times, Sunday Times (UK), Yahoo and thousands of other major media publications. Calling a journalist or meeting with them in real life is the best way to get them to 'listen' but sometimes that's not possible. If you're a complete stranger to them start by reaching out via Twitter and see if you can get a conversation going. When you're ready to pitch think very carefully about what makes your company newsworthy. If you don't know what is newsworthy start reading all the outlets that you'd like to be featured in. Pitches and outreach should be 100% personalized. Don't go for the spray and pray (send out a release and hope someone picks it up) that rarely leads to any results. Your first communication to a journalist or writer should be extremely succinct - a few lines at best. Brevity and a great email subject line are the key to getting them to open an email. Don't think about how awesome your start-up is instead think about how you can become an SME for them and someone they trust and can come to. Their job is not to promote your business, their job is to write compelling news stories. I can't speak to PR web or Pitch Pigeon because we don't use services like that. We work to create relationships with media so they come to trust us and come to us for tips and sources. It's a tricky thing and tough if you're just starting out, though not impossible. If you have a great company and some success under you belt you can definitely pitch yourself to relevant journalists. Create a good list and start pitching! In our office we have a saying, 'Clarity through action.' You'll have no idea if they care to listen or if what you have is newsworthy until you start diving down the rabbit hole of pitching them. If you get a reply and it's a no make sure you ask for feedback. It's always good to know what they're working on or why your story may or may not be a fit. Good luck! If you've got further questions I'm happy to hop on a call about it all.