Every founder on the planet knows getting press is an absolute pain in the ass. Until you have any kind of credibility, nobody cares what you are doing. You don’t know who to talk to, what to say or even how to reach the people you need to tell about your (insert another best idea ever here).
Press is absolutely vital for any startup and you can hear that preached in the walls of Y Combinator, TechStars, Seed Sumo or any other accelerator. It speeds up everything and is like a loud megaphone screaming out what you are doing. Plus if the press is from a large enough publication, it means more press, which means an even bigger megaphone. Real Press is normally very hard to get (consistently). You might be able to grace the pages of TechCrunch or Business Insider every once in a while, but to get it when you need it, you have to take a different approach. Meet, Sumo Press Hack.
STEP 1 - Target Individual Reporters
You want to find writers that have written about things in your space. They are more likely to write about you. This app uses the Google News API and searches for all articles with your keyword and pulls out the author. This app is going to automatically put all of the results into a nice little spreadsheet (csv) for you and will include: Article Link, Title, Description, and Region.
EX: If I’m building a door to door app, I want to search the app for “Mobile CRM Apps”.
Once you have a nice list of articles you think are relevant, the next step is to download them into a csv. We will use that csv with mechanical turk to get all of the authors email address and reach out to them about our article or press we want.
STEP 2 - Download the csv
Download the CSV and save it somewhere that you can find it (on your desktop would work).
STEP 3 - Register for Mechanical Turk
So I don't know if you outsource yet or not, but the following 2 steps alone are absolute GOLD. Ever since I found out about Mechanical Turk it has been a game changer for Seed Sumo and our family businesses.
Imagine being able to get 1,000 email addresses inserted into a spreadsheet from a list of domain names in less than 10 minutes of your own time. Or send thousands of people to your website from all over the world to make a comment for under $30? The possibilities are endless, but the bottom line is you have an army of "Turkers" at your fingertips that are waiting for small "Micro-Tasks" that can be completed in under 5 minutes. Mechanical Turk let's you post the task you want completed, and puts the army to work all at the same time. They each grab an individual task and complete it. You have hundreds of small tasks being completed all at once. Its beautiful.
Here is the link to login or register: Mechanical Turk
STEP 4 - Setup Mechanical Turk
The following video will give you step by step instructions on how to use Mechanical Turk for this hack. This is the most complicated part of this hack, but I tried to cover each step.
Don't make fun of me for still having the trial version of ScreenFlow (Which is why DEMO still shows up. I'm just a cheap, cheap bastard. Also, watch the video in 2X speed by clicking on the coggle wheel in the youtube video and click speed, then 2X. I sound much smarter and you save a lot of time.
More detailed instructions with screenshots from the video above:
STEP 5: Monitoring your MTurk Progress
After a day or so, you should get almost all of the authors contact info. If you don’t, cancel your HIT project, adjust what you are paying by a few cents, and relaunch it with just the articles you don’t have contact info for. You should get the remaining emails you need. Just keep relaunching and adjusting price until it’s complete. I usually pay $.04/per 45 second task and never have an issue.
*Update - Lately I have not had to relaunch any of the campaigns and they are all being completed on the first run. God I love MTurk.
STEP 6: Prepare Emails
Email One Example (A Week Before Launch)
Email Two Example (3 Days Before Launch)
Launch Email (Day of Launch)
What’s an Embargo? I didn’t include in these email examples, but I suggest you state an Embargo Date so the reporters are not allowed to write about you until your launch date. FYI: Some large web publications hate this, but if you don’t do it then the story will be released prior to launch and will not be covered by any other reporters.
The way around this…If you know an author is big-time, just send him/her a revised Email One Example the night before launch (make sure to adjust the dates in the email so it makes sense though). This has worked dozens of times for me and keeps everyone happy.
STEP 7: Make an Epic Press Kit
This will take some time, but it is absolutely essential. Unless you have a cure for cancer, these journalists don’t have time to email you and gather all this info. They will just move on to the next best startup to do a story on.
Here is an example of Balsamiq’s Press Kit, one that is not over the top, but has all the essentials. If your press kit is not at least this good, keep going.
Also, post it to your website with a link. Now that other journalists are going to be hearing about you, make it easy for them to create a story too.
STEP 8: Email’s Go Out
You have 2 options here to do this
- Send 1 email at a time (Time consuming, but works really well)
- Create an email campaign in (MailChimp, Constant Contact, or SendGrid), load up all the emails and save a bunch of time. If you go this route, choose the most generic template they have so it looks like a normal email coming from you. Don’t send a fancy designed email, they won’t open it. (MailChimp Instructions) (SendGrid Instructions)
- DO NOT SEND TO YOURSELF AND BCC EVERYONE. This is lazy and is not an option. You will show up in most of their junk emails and never be seen by any of them. Spend the time and do it right.
Step 9: Watch the Press Roll In
Set up Google Alerts, which makes it easy to be alerted while the press is released.