11/26/2012 08:05 pm ET Updated Jan 26, 2013

5 Tips to Landing the Right Reporter to Cover Your Startup's Story


The first step in most public relations campaigns is getting your company featured in an industry-related publication. A well-written article about your startup's latest funding round or big promotion is arguably more effective than a paid-for advertisement, and it serves as a testament of success to your investors and clients. As founder and CEO of the Cutler Group, a boutique tech PR firm, getting great coverage for our tech startup clients is of utmost importance.

One way to ensure that my customers will be pleased with their appearance in the media is to find the perfectly fit reporters to cover their stories. And getting those reporters requires more than throwing as many pitches as possible against the wall and seeing what sticks. You'll want someone respected in their field for credibility purposes, and who covers the beat that your story falls under. This likely ensures that it will be read by the appropriate audience -- namely, those interested or involved in your industry.

How do you go about finding these journalists and writers? It involves lots of research, creating persuasive pitches and being responsive to their needs. Here are five tips for making sure your story ends up in the right hands.

1. Read, read, read.

You should be reading tons of different publications -- magazines, newspapers, trade journals, blogs, etc. Read all the publications that pertain to your industry and that people in your industry read. This will give you a good idea of what outlet would be most likely and best suited to carry your story. Plus, you'll start to recognize the reporters that cover your beat.

2. Keep a repository of similar stories.

If you're reading most of your articles online (and let's be honest: you probably are), create a spreadsheet. Keep the links to your favorite articles -- those that are most similar to the kind you'd like to see about your company -- along with the authors of the articles. This list should be updated, so you'll be able to keep things organized once you start pitching your story to various publications.

3. Find the contact information of your favorite reporters.

Once you settle on the reporters you want for your story, it's time to reach out to them. In most cases, some cursory research should be enough to find their email address or even telephone number on the publication website. For those who are more difficult to find, consider investing in a PR service like Cision or Vocus -- databases with extensive media contact info.

4. Tell your prospective reporter how this story helps them.

When writing your email pitch (or preparing to speak with your target over the phone), keep in mind that this reporter likely knows that you are writing to them primarily to aid your own cause. Therefore, in your pitch, emphasize why a story about you is good for him or her. Tell them why their readers would appreciate this story, and why it's worth their time. This is a mutually-beneficial relationship -- make sure they know that.

5. Be responsive and timely in your correspondence.

Many reporters work on a deadline and once they commit to you will rely on a timely correspondence in order to get the story done. Get them whatever information they need or request as quickly as possible. Once you've done your part, be sure to follow up with the reporter, but don't spam them. Developing a good relationship with writers you trust is an integral part of getting continued coverage for your company going forward.