Dmitry Dragilev., founder of Dmitry single handedly grew a startup from 0 to 40M+ pageviews through PR and got acquired by Google a few years back. He has published 1300+ articles in press and has written guest articles for most major tech publications. He currently runs a PR SaaS called JustReachOut and PR coaching course PRThatConverts currently used by 3500+ entrepreneurs and startups to find and pitch journalists without the help of PR firms. 


Extract from transcript:

Paul Kemp: What is the wrong way of reaching out to influencers in the tech press?

Dmitry Dragilev: The wrong way — and I see this all the time — we have over 3,500 paying customers of the service right now, and I do the support for all of them, which is crazy, but I wanna talk to my customers… And the number one way that our app developers or small business are trying to pitch press is

“Hello John, I launched this new app. This new app does this, this and this, it helps families spend less time on their iPhones by rewarding them”


“It helps the teenagers not to text and drive. We just launched. Here’s the info about our team, here’s the link to our page, here’s the link to our app. Can you check it out? We’d love to hear from you”

..and that’s all they write.

That type of pitch is all about them and themselves and what they’re doing, and they’re presuming that that person will find it interesting. Now, usually journalists will receive anywhere from 80 to 100 e-mails every day, exactly the same format:

“Hey, this is what we’re doing. Can you write about us?”

and there’s no actual conversation starter there. I always say, a conversation starter is where you give something to them, you give value to them upfront, to start a relationship or a conversation. I always say..

“If you saw them at a conference and you sat down with them or you started talking to them randomly, cold — they don’t know you, you don’t know them — what would you say?” and chances are you would not walk up to them and say “Hey” and start talking exactly about your app and what you’re doing. You’d probably refer to something they’ve written, something they’ve tweeted or something they’ve done, and start the conversation there and see if there’s any overlap between that and what you’re doing day-to-day with your app.

It’s a little bit of a bridge to

“Hey, this is what we’re doing. Can you write about us?”

and that’s where a lot of people tend to fall down.

“Well, I can’t figure out what that transition should be, because a typical app developer might not be an extrovert”

I’m an engineer by background, I know what that is like exactly. I came here as a Soviet immigrant in ’93 and I was not an extrovert in any way. I was that guy who sat coding on my computer. But I pushed myself to get a little better at just starting a conversation where there’s some common interest between you and the other person, and that person at least finds something you say is interesting.

It’s kind of mundane or too shallow I guess for a journalist to hear,

“Hey, we’re doing a new app. We have this new product. Can you look at it?”

Everybody says that to them, so how can you stand out? You have to offer some value, some insight, some data, some opinion, some comment on their article. Maybe you found a spelling mistake in the article, but something besides “Hey, here’s what we’re doing, here’s our brand new app.”