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Pitch Outside the Box: Four Tips for Pitching Tech Media

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As more and more cities and states want to promote their high tech and startup scenes, technology reporters have become some of the most sought after people in the media. We recently attended a “Meet the Media: Tech” event hosted by PRSA New York to get inside tips from tech media reporters at top-tier tech outlets like Vice Motherboard, Bloomberg Gadfly, IDG, Fortune and Fast Company. Below are some key takeaways for getting the attention of tech media.

1. Do your Homework

Picture this: A reporter receives a well-written pitch with a great subject line that piques her interest, and she calls the PR contact to ask a few follow-up questions. To her chagrin, the PR contact on the line can’t answer a single one of her questions, and the article goes unwritten. Does that horror story give you goosebumps? Here’s how to avoid that kind of missed opportunity.

  • Be an expert: The deeper your understanding of tech topics, the more effective your pitches will be. If you don’t stay up-to-date on tech trends, you won’t be able to catch that perfectly timed opportunity for your client. Educate yourself by reading the same media outlets that techies read, like Hacker News, Tech Meme and Engadget.
  • Use the iceberg strategy: Think about your pitch as the tip of the iceberg – include your most attention-worthy bullets, but make sure you have a wealth of information and context below the surface. Before you send off a pitch, anticipate what a reporter might ask you if he’s interested in the story. If you wouldn’t be able to talk about the subject at a moment’s notice, do a little more research before hitting “send.”

2. Plant the Seed

One of the most pervasive forms of tech reporting is a roundup of products, companies or influential people. With titles like, “The Top 10 Virtual Reality Startups,” and “The Best Cities in the US for Women in Tech,” these pieces use lists to skim the surface of top tech trends and topics, and getting your client on the list is worth its weight in advertising equivalency. Here are a few strategies you can use to get in on these roundups.

  • Serve small bites: Consider sending a short and direct pitch covering just one topic or company. While you might not get an instant hit from this pitch, reporters can pull it out of their back pockets down the road.
  • Make them smarter: Technology moves quickly, and tech reporters often have just as much trouble as the rest of us understanding the ins and outs of the latest trends. Notice some top-tier outlets writing about gigabit communities? Find a reporter that hasn’t yet, and offer them a short interview with an expert on the topic. When they get around to that gigabit article, your expert might be the first person they think of for a quote.

3. Content is King

Once you’ve researched your contact and topic and chosen a pitching strategy, it’s time to focus on the content of your pitch. To make your pitch stand out, don’t be afraid to stray from your go-to phrases and formatting. Here are a few ways you can switch things up.

  • Prove them wrong: Try going against the grain. Is every tech outlet saying 3D printing will reshape the pharmaceutical industry? Start your pitch by saying that actually, big data will have a much bigger impact on the pharmaceutical industry than 3D printing. Then, follow up with a well-researched, straightforward list of reasons why your client is leading the way.
  • Get creative: In a sea of pitches with similar formats and topics, consider modifying your pitch to stand out. Try attaching some B-roll footage you have on hand, or only include a few bullets in your email, and attach a backgrounder.

4. Cut the Buzz

One tech reporter told us she’d need an extra eight-hour day in her workweek in order to read and respond to every pitch she gets. To get your message heard through the noise, stay away from typical buzz words and get right to the point. Cutting through the fluff and filler shows reporters that you respect their time. Here are a few of tech reporters’ most-hated buzz words:

  • Innovation
  • Disruption
  • Influencer
  • Thought leader

The bottom line: to effectively pitch tech media, understand the topic you’re pitching, don’t hide it behind buzz words, and don’t be afraid to get creative with your angle and format.

Do you have any tips for grabbing the attention of elusive tech reporters? Let us know in a comment below or tweet us @aboutdci.

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