How startups such as Dropbox, Airbnb, Groupon and others acquired their first users.

A while back I asked whether people would be interested in reading about the stories behind the launches of well-known startups. People seemed to like the idea, so I went ahead and compiled some details on the user acquisition strategies used by a few of the better known companies. I wrote more in-depth articles, but I’ll share the most interesting aspects here.

  • Dropbox going from 5000 to 75,000 wait-list signups in one night

Back in 2008, Dropbox was struggling to get new users. They were running an Adsense campaign, unsuccessfully. For every $300 they spent, they’d acquire a user who paid for the $99 product. After going at this for a while, Drew Houtson and his team decided to try something different.

Drew made a simple, four minute video showing off how Dropbox worked. Because the service doesn’t sound as impressive in text, having a video to show off how it actually functioned worked wonders. Here’s a link to the video. Another aspect of the video that is important to note is that it was tailored to the community it was being shown to. Drew was a member of the Digg community, and knew what kinds of things they’d appreciate. If you pay close attention, the video is full of references to things like TPS reports and Tom Cruise. It was full of inside jokes, and quickly got voted to the top of Digg. By the next day, they had 70,000 new signups.

Another thing that Dropbox did that we might be able to emulate while marketing our own products is offering extra services for social shares. Dropbox ran an extensive campaign during which you could share the service on Facebook and Twitter for an additional 128MB of space. It was something the users wanted (as opposed to just giving away a peice of technology in a raffle), and lead to 2.8 million invitations being sent during the first 30 days.

Full write-up with history, a few more details, etc.

  • How reddit and Quora got past the chicken and egg problem of having no content / users

Quora and reddit solved the “empty site = no users / no users = empty site” problem in similar ways. The founders of both services spent the first months filling them with content themselves.

On Quora, the founders simply answered and asked lots of questions under their own profiles. But the reddit approach was a bit more interesting. Instead of just using their own accounts, the founders would create fake users to make it look like there were multiple people submitting links. Their ‘submit link’ form featured a third slot: “Username”. According to Steve Huffman, reddit cofounder, it took several months until they didn’t have to submit content themselves to fill up the front page.

They also focused on keeping everybody in the same place in the beginning. reddit had no subreddits, and Quora was mostly focused on technology. Instead of having users spread out, everyone was in the same place- making the community feel bigger than it was.

Quora and reddit write-up

  • Foursquare

Foursquare took the old concept of local apps and added several interesting features that really attracted attention, like the badges. Becoming the “mayor”, or the person who checks in the most at a certain place, quickly became an addiction for people.

They also gave merchants the opportunity to interact with their customers a lot better than most apps. After the business claimed their Foursquare page, they could interact with the people who were checking in at their establishment- whether they just wanted to chat with their most active customers, or actually wanted to reward people who check in.

And lastly, a huge part of Foursquare’s growth was due to their city by city strategy. Every time they expanded to a new city, they had a huge amount of new users signing up due to the word of mouth effect (“have you heard that Foursquare just came to our city?”) and local media covering the app.

Foursquare write-up

  • Groupon started with a local MVP

I really like the story behind Groupon because it is a great example of the things we repeat on this subreddit so much. Start local, and make a minimal viable product.

Groupon started as local as they could get. They went around the office building that they were renting a space in, asking people to sign up. Their first campaign? Half-priced pizzas at the restaurant on the first floor. The first 500 signups came from here.

After that, they stuck to focusing on local products and services. Because big companies such as Amazon or Wal-Mart were able to negotiate such low prices, not even a big group-buying website could compete with them when it came to items such as televisions and phones. So instead, Groupon focused on unique products from local businesses. A lot of these smaller establishments had never even tried marketing, so Groupon’s offer was enticing. They were able to negotiate much better prices.

As far as the MVP goes, Andrew Mason didn’t want to waste time developing a full platform around the Groupon idea. Instead of trying to build a big team like he had with his first business venture, he got a few people together and set up a WordPress blog that the team would post offers on. Coupons were individually emailed, and no one had a clear idea of what their role or title in the company really was. They spent their first months focusing on seeing how many users they could get as quickly as possible in order to validate the idea, and then started looking into the business side of the company once it was clear that they were onto something big.

And lastly, Groupon focused on offers that were inherently social early on. They had deals for things like cafes, restaurants or movies. These are all things that you invite other people to, so it naturally lead to people sharing the website.

Groupon write-up

  • Tinder

Tinder had two things going for it. It started local, and it was dead simple.

The app did a great job at taking the tired concept of dating online and re-doing it completely. Instead of directories of people and search, you simply have a person’s image appear, and you swipe left or right. It’s basically the same feature that made HotOrNot and Facemash fun, brought to mobile. The double opt-in feature helped with the problem that lots of users have on traditional dating websites: if you are an attractive female, you’re swamped with messages. If you’re a guy who isn’t having a lot of luck on the website, most of your messages go unanswered. Because you aren’t able to message somebody on Tinder without them also liking you, both these problems were solved to a large extent.

And more interestingly, Tinder also started locally. Having 50 users in a small space is a lot better for this kind of app than having 5000 spread out users. Here’s my favorite part: they threw exclusive parties at USC. To enter, you had to install Tinder on your phone. You can just imagine the amount of word-of-mouth they got out of that.

Tinder write-up

  • Airbnb used another platform [Craigslist] to get early users

I also found Airbnb’s strategy interesting. Unlike with reddit and Quora, putting up fake offers wasn’t going to work. So instead, they did something a bit different. They used a marketplace that already had a lot of vacation homes to grow: Craigslist. A lot of the people who posted their homes on Craigslist’s vacation homes section received an odd email from a “big fan of Airbnb.”

I am emailing you because you have one of the nicest listings in Craigslist in the Tahoe area, and I want to recommend you feature it to one of the largest vacation rental marketplaces on the web, Airbnb. The site already has 3,000,000 page views a month! Check it out here:

Each one came accompanied by a semi-anonymous Gmail account, such as Jill D. The thing is, these messages worked. Lots of people started posting their homes on Airbnb as well as Craigslist, which solved the big problem of having users check for places only to find an empty website. The supply side is a lot harder to fill up on a website like Airbnb.

And as a side note, one thing that also helped early on was going around to user’s homes and helping them with their photos. This is a great example of doing things that don’t scale early on. They went from $200 a week to $400 after updating their website with the new photos for each offering. It might not seem that big considering the money Airbnb makes today, but I know that a lot of /r/Entrepreneur users would love that kind of increase in profit.

Airbnb write-up

Those are the ones I have done so far. I enjoyed digging around to see exactly how they were able to get such large numbers of users in such little amounts of time. In the original thread, I mentioned that I was thinking about posting these on some website related to startup stories. I might do that someday, if I get enough content written and people like these. But for now, I just posted them on a personal site so that people can read them. Good enough for me.


The whole point of this is to look at what successful startups did, and see if we can apply it to our own marketing. Some key points to consider:

  • Try making a video to explain your service, if text isn’t doing it justice. And if you do, make sure to target the community you’ll be sharing to.
  • The best way to make your new community not look like a ghost town is to fill it up yourself. Whether you take the reddit approach of fake users or go with Quora’s team of active members depends on what kind of community it is. Having fake users on Quora, an important aspect of which is credentials for every user, wouldn’t have worked.
  • Is there already an existing user base on another service that you can tap into? Try taking Airbnb’s approach and seeing if you can get some of them onto your website. When doing this, it’s important to note that what you’re offering should be better in some way.
  • Local is key in a lot of these stories. It’s much easier and cheaper to focus on one subset of people than trying to get them all.

The Hacker’s Guide to Getting Press

By Austen


There’s nothing a startup (or any company, really) needs quite as much as press. It brings in traffic and users/customers, social validation and legitimacy all at the same time. Those are things it’s hard to get enough of.

It’s taken me years of trial and error, the help of a lot of other really smart marketers, and tons of time playing with hacks and tweaking language and strategy to figure out what works across the board and boil it down to a repeatable process. So far it has worked to help my company and others get published in:

Time Magazine
The Guardian
and hundreds of smaller blogs/websites. Some are under NDAs, so I won’t be disclosing all of the details, but this process, if followed the way I spell it out below, should work well for you.

A special hat-tip goes out to colleagues Fit Marketing for helping me (and paying me) to come up with this stuff.


On the surface, the process of getting press seems reasonably simple. All you need to do is find a reporter or blogger that might like to write about you, and you email them your pitch. But doing that well and making it scale can become very complex very quickly. We’ll take you through step by step, and by the end of this guide it should take you less than a day to email up to 1,000 relevant press contacts with all the right information and messaging that would make them want to write about you. Even the crappiest companies should get a half dozen or so mentions in the press when doing so. We’ll cover:

    1. The overall strategy and approach
    2. How to find the publications that would be likely to write about you, and to programmatically break them down into manageable lists.
    3. Finding the angle to pitch
    4. Creating a press kit
    5. Writing the perfect, personalized email (at scale)
    6. How to send large amounts of email, pre-populating fields and allowing for personalization.

Now, let’s go get you some press.

Overall Strategy and Approach

Customer Profiling

Whenever I begin a marketing effort, I like to really try to get into the mind of the person I’m “selling” to, regardless of what it is I may be selling. In this case, we’re selling to the reporter, and what we’re selling is that we’re legitimate and interesting enough that their audience will want to hear about us.

There’s also a pecking order among reporters. The high-profile bloggers and reporters (think Alexia Tsosis, Sarah Lacy, Robert Scoble) can spend most of their time on investigative journalism and analysis, while some of the lower/younger reporters have a large quota they have to meet and can barely rephrase press releases before they throw them on their blog. It takes a unique strategy to reach the different places on the totem pole.

Though they all have their weaknesses and pet interests, (Robert Scoble, for example, is a sucker for anything involving Google Glass or fine alcohol), it rarely makes sense to pitch the highest tier first when we’re looking for press coverage. They’re big enough that if what you’re doing isn’t shaking up Silicon Valley they probably don’t care. Our strategy will actually be quite the reverse.

One of the first things reporters do when your pitch lands in their inbox is see what other reporters are saying about you (or if anyone has written about you at all). Reporters, naturally, like to see some level of social proof before they make a move. If other people are writing about you that signals that you’re worth writing about. We’re going to use that to our advantage.

The Press Pyramid

To solve the “What do I find if I Google you” problem, we will build a pyramid of press mentions, starting with the blogs and sites that are small and hungry for content, and work our way up to the 800-pound gorillas.

Press Pyramid

So we want to start at the bottom rung; the hobbyist with a decent following, the small tech blog just getting started, and the small companies doing what they can to pay the bills with a little traffic and some well-placed Adsense ads, etc. But most of them are blogs you don’t read often and may not have even heard of, so how do we find them? (This is where it gets fun.)

List Building

The first thing we need to do, before we can separate the websites out into their separate tiers, is generate a mammoth list of blogs that we can easily import into tools that we’ll be using later.

All we’ll need in the beginning are URLs of publications that write about companies like ours. We have tools to find contact information within those blogs, but the tools have to know where to start.

A word of caution: Blogs that are “vaguely related” and reporters who write about things “kind of like” your company will not write about you. If I make iPad cases, a blog that writes about iPad apps isn’t even worth approaching. So when we build the list, let’s make sure to narrow our searches as closely as we can.

Now let’s go build our list of URLs.

List-Building Method 1: Blog Rankings

We’re going to use a couple of sites that rank blogs within their categories, and scrape for the URLs blogs in the applicable categories.

First, download the Scraper Chrome Extension (or its equivalent in the browser of your choice).

Now we go to our blog ranking website. Let’s start with Alltop. Go to Alltop and find your category, remembering to be as narrow as possible.

We’ll use my startup, Grasswire as an example. Grasswire is a newsroom for the Internet; it lets everyday people fact-check and sort social media content as it streams in real-time. So we’re going to find all of the blogs related to “social media” and “journalism.”

The Alltop social media page looks like this:

Get Press for Your Startup

We see the classic suspects: TechCrunch and Mashable, but also some sites you might not be familiar with: Smartbrief on Social Media and Social Media Examiner. We need to add them to our list (which will basically be a huge Google Doc to begin with).

Right-click on one of the sites in red, and click on the scraper tool.

Hacking the Press

Then click “export to Google Docs.”

Now we have a a fairly decent list of sites with their URLs that might write about us.

Repeat the process in as many categories as exactly match your company (I would do journalism as well), and then we’ll switch over to BlogRank.

BlogRank is a bit more complicated to scrape from. First, search for your category using the search bar. It will ask you to select a “view,” but it doesn’t really matter what view you choose, since we’ll be scraping them all anyway.

Again, we’re going to right click on the name of a blog, and say “scrape.” You’ll see the scraper tool pop up just as it did with AllTop, but this time it only appears to pull in one blog. It’s not scraping all of the content we want it to, because BlogRank is set up in HTML tables. We need to modify what the scraper is looking for.

Screenshot 2013-11-28 23.20.54 (1)

With the scraper window still open, we’re going to edit the XPath reference at the top-left of the tool.

The XPath probably says something like //div[3]/table[2]/tbody/tr[2]/td/a. All we have to do to make it scrape everything is to change the final number in tr[2] (which stands for “table row 2″) to tr[*], which tells the scraper to gather every row.

So change our XPath reference should now be //div[3]/table[2]/tbody/tr[*]/td/a. Click “scrape” at the bottom of the tool, and your results on the right side should look like they did for Alltop. We’re ready to export to Google Docs.

Screenshot 2013-11-28 23.24.12

Repeat the process for any other categories in BlogRank, and we should have a list of hundreds of blogs relevant to what we want to target.

We’ll expand the list with one more hack later, but we’ll treat that separately, so we’ll just work with this for now.

There are some duplicates, and scraping BlogRank brought in the URLs for the RSS feeds as well (which we don’t want), so we need to clean this list up before we can manipulate and import it.

Scrubbing the list

If we take the BlogRank Google Docs we just created, we can see that the odd rows from row 3 on only contain the RSS URLs we don’t want. Let’s get rid of those.

This is a bit hack-y and I’m sure there’s a better way, but it works for me. In cell C1, enter the following =MOD(ROW(),2), then copy that formula down (once your cursor turns into the cross when hovering over the bottom-right corner of the cell) to the rest of the spreadsheet. The result should be every odd C cell (C1, C3, C5, etc.) containing a “1″ and every even C cell (C2, C4, C6) containing a “0″.

Now select the entire C column, click on “Data” and select “Sort sheet by column C A ->Z”

The numbers in column C won’t change, but the rest of your sheet will be nicely separated out for easy deletion. Find anything that’s empty in column A and delete its row. Once you’ve done this, you should have a column that is strictly blog URLs that we can import into the tools we’ll use later.

Do this for each Google Doc spreadsheet you created, and then combine them into one giant list – hopefully it’s over 700 total sites at this point.

We will inevitably have some duplicates, so once we have everything combined let’s get rid of them.

In the new cell C1, enter =UNIQUE(A:B) and hit “enter.” This should create a list with only the unique entries in columns C and D. You can’t yet delete columns A and B, since they’re linked to columns C and D using a formula, so copy and paste the values from columns C and D and paste them in a fresh Google Doc.

What you just created is an enormous list of all of the top blog URLs in the categories and industries that would be most likely to write about you. Give yourself a pat on the back; that’s pretty awesome. But we’re only getting started – before we start building a press kit and sending out emails, there’s yet another way to generate a list. This list takes a lot less time to create, so don’t worry.

List Building Method 2: Google News

Getting a list of blogs in our categories may not cover all the bases. The next method to build our list will be scraping the results from the Google News API.

Thankfully the good folks over at Customer Development Labs have already built a tool that will scrape and download Google News for us.

All we have to do is go to their tool, enter a keyword (it could be a competitor, a keyword, a problem you’re trying to solve, etc.) and it will spit out a nicely formatted .CSV file of all the articles that have been written about that keyword in the past few days.

This is, of course, much easier to use and manipulate than our other list,. I haven’t found anything of a particular region to be of any value, so I would delete those (unless you’re from that region or your product is specifically relevant there), but other than that I would leave the CSV file as is, or copy and paste the information into your Google Doc.

This can be a little bit annoying, but hopefully, if you combined the two methods, in just a few minutes we have found over 1,000 URLs.

It will be easy to go from URL to email address later (I promise), so let’s put together something to send the reporters.

Creating Your Angle

News isn’t worthy of publishing just because it exists. Part of the job of any journalist or reporter is curation — deciding what is worthy of being published in their publication, whether that be a blog or the New York Times. Your job as someone looking for press is to show them how you meet their standards and/or would be interesting to their audience.

We could go into all sorts of journalism principles that determine why something makes it into a publication and what principles they use, but really it’s just common sense.

Is it timely? Is it relevant? Is it interesting? Why would someone like you be interested in reading this?

Again, we’ll take my startup, Grasswire, for example. Grasswire is an Internet newsroom that lets everyone fact-check and sort social media content in real-time. But what does that mean?

That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails. That’s what a ship needs. But what a ship is…what the Black Pearl really is…is freedom.” – Jack Sparrow

What grasswire needs is an Internet newsroom. But what grasswire is is democratization of journalism and information. It’s turning over the power of governments and corporations to everyday people. It’s letting ordinary people control the information that determines how they see the world.

Not many people want to read about yet another social media tool. People love to read about freedom.

So in the initial pitch we won’t go deep into detail about how the technology works, what APIs we pull from, why the UI/UX look like they do, etc. We talk about the story of grasswire. What we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and why it needs to be done. Reporters don’t like products very often, but they always love missions.

Grasswire also had the benefit of the angle that I lived in my car for three months to get it off the ground; that’s interesting to anyone, if only to understand how I lived in a car, where I slept, where I showered, etc. That also goes in the arsenal, and should be mentioned when we’re sending our email, and kept in mind as we develop our press kit, which it is now time to do.

The Press Kit

Now we have an even bigger list of sites that would potentially write about our startup; I usually start working with a list of 1,000 or so URLs. We’ll create a semi-automated way of sending the emails in a minute, what we have to do now is create something to send them.

The Press Kit, basically a .zip file of all of the content for the reporter to use, will vary from startup to startup. Grasswire‘s original press kit (will download as a .zip) was honestly mediocre. But that press kit combined with a few emails got us our first press (BBC, The Guardian, Slate, Yahoo Finance, etc.) before we even had a product. Let’s look over the basic structure of a press kit.

A press kit should include the following:

  • Company Overview
  • Founder Photos
  • Logo(s)
  • Press Mentions
  • Product Screenshots (or photographs)

The Grasswire press kit included another document we called the “Grasswire Story,” because the idea that I lived in my car for a few months to get it off the ground was quite compelling. If you can think of anything else specific to your company that would make for an interesting story, include it in a separate document.

Company Overview

The company overview is a very simple document that explains who you are and what you do. Think of it as an elevator pitch for newspapers.

For Grasswire we included a tagline, a one-sentence description, three “how it works” paragraphs, and a bit of a call to action. An example might look something like this (note: this is a press kit for a real company we did work for, and it got them more than a little bit of press, from AllThingsD to the Wall Street Journal.

Underwater Audio Overview

Tagline: Waterproof iPods and headphones for swimmers

Description: Underwater Audio has developed technology that allows us to waterproof ipods, headphones, and other electronic devices for swimmers.

How it works: Underwater Audio music players come waterproofed from the inside out. They look, feel, and smell like any other 2GB iPod Shuffle — but they work underwater.

Underwater Audio seals the iPod from the inside out using a proprietary process, and we have tested it at a depth of 200 feet (though we don’t recommend Underwater Audio for diving). Dunk it in water, leave it there, it still works.

The Underwater Audio player will work with any headphones, though under the water you’ll need waterproof headphones to create a watertight seal with your ear to have good audio. Our recommended picks are available along with your iPod on

Underwater Audio iPods and bundles are available at starting at $149.

Of course, Underwater Audio is fairly easy to describe — they sell waterpoof iPods. Your company might be a little bit more nebulous, but you should be able to nail it down to both a one-sentence description and a short explanation that’s not more than a couple paragraphs. I like to start out pretending like I’m explaining a company to a five-year-old, then making my explanation more technical and detailed from there if necessary.

Founder Photos

Yes, this can be a bit weird, but some publications really like them. Send headshots if you have to, but really if there’s an interesting angle to your story you can tell them through your founder photos as well. Most of the Grasswire team photos were published because my co-founder and I were standing in front of the car where I lived while we got Grasswire off the ground. Underwater Audios might be something underwater with a waterproof iPod demoing the product. These are rarely used, so you can go out on a limb. Put them all in a folder.


I’ve had some reporters ask for .ai or .psd folders that will scale better, while most prefer simple .png logos. It’s not dificult to throw them all in a folder, send them off, and let the reporters decide.

Press Mentions

This is basically to show some social proof; it’s just a document with links to other articles that have been written about you.

Product Screenshots/Videos/Photographs

The most important of these three are screenshots. It’s really difficult to explain how a product works without a visual; everything seems incredibly abstract. Include any other product demo videos or photographs that a reporter may want to include. Remember the strategy here is to give them every piece of content they could possibly use, and let them decide what is relevant for their type of media.

The Email

We’re almost ready to start systematically gathering reporters’ emails and sending them our press kit, but first we need some text to populate the email.

Ask 10 reporters what they would like to see in press pitches, and all 10 of them will say “keep it short.” And when they say short, they mean it – looking through our press pitches, anything that was longer than two (really short) paragraphs cut our response rates in half. So I like to boil my pitches down to three really easy parts.

  1. Introduction
  2. One-sentence pitch
  3. Offer/ask (sample or press kit)

Here’s the general framework for an email that works really well.

Hey [name],

My name is Austen from Underwater Audio. We developed a technology that makes iPods completely waterproof — it’s some pretty cool technology you (and your readers might be interested in. We’re at, and I have a [press kit/sample] I’d like to send your way to [review/check out] if you’d be interested. Let me know!

Austen Allred
[contact info]

The most important part of that email, to wax Steve Jobs-like, is what isn’t there. No long introductions, no links, no videos, no demos, just “We’re here, are you interested?” I’ve also gone back and forth with varying levels of personalization, a la “I read your article about x and I really liked y” or “I’m a huge fan of your work” enough to make it clear that an email is really personalized, but the difference in results has been negligible, especially because you don’t know the writer or his publication.

It’s really easy for a reporter to hit reply and say “Yeah, send me what you’ve got,” and then you’re introduced and talking. It can be tempting to send 1,000 press kits out or tons of links on the initial email, but trust me; this gets much better results.

Also note that you’ll want to avoid links, especially considering you’ll be sending about emails in bulk. 1,000 similar emails with the same link will look really spammy to email providers, and you will probably start hitting spam folders.

Sending the Emails

So we’ve got a press kit ready, some email text to send, and list of sites to send them to. It’s time to start gathering some email addresses and sending some emails (this is, surprisingly enough, the same step).

To save us hours of time we’re going to use Buzzstream. Buzzstream lets you navigate to sites, automatically pulls contact information, lets you send pre-populated but personalized emails, and helps you follow up on those emails. The starter pack, which will be enough to meet our needs, is $29/month (with a 14-day free trial!), so it’s well worth our time to not have to do all of this manually.

Open up your BuzzStream account, and you’ll see this page:

paste URLs

Hit “paste URLs” and paste the URLs from your Google Docs (you still have them, right?)

Click “add websites,” and wait a minute for BuzzStream to do its job. It usually takes somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes for it to process 1,000 websites.

get a drink

What you have now is a giant list of websites with email addresses, Twitter handles, etc.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 1.13.39 PM

I use “domain authority” as the best sort method to decide how legitimate a blog or website is. Generally the biggest (TechCrunch, Wired, etc.) will be 90+; really, really good blogs will be 80+. Anything 40-70 is either a smaller blog or a mommy/amateur blog.

If you’re looking to go straight to the top, look at 80-100. If you’re looking to start at the bottom and build your way up in legitimacy, go for the 40-70. I don’t even bother with anything that has a domain authority lower than 30.

Now we have our list; let’s go to work.

Reaching Out

The temptation here is going to be to send a mass email blast. Fight that temptation. Even if it takes us a couple days to pore through and send out 500 really good emails, it will be worth it. I promise.

Buzzstream makes it easy for you to take an email template and fill it in with variables (e.g. “[firstname]” or “[sitename]“. Once it finds the right contact info it will automatically plug that information in, so you could be pretty close to simply hitting “send” for every email you write and moving on to the next site.

It’s also possible to reach out on Twitter; but this doesn’t scale very well.

First, if there are one or two blogs that would be your ideal publications. Find the ideal person there, and reach out to them on Twitter. Try sending a message somewhat like this:

@username hey I have something to send you about [your angle]. What’s a good email?

This creates a bit of a personal relationship, and if you’re vague enough and your angle is interesting enough, few will refuse to give you their email address.

I like to send two tweets, but of course refrain from tweeting at 50 people. First because that’s annoying, second because the other reporters will see you blindly reaching out, and third because you’ll be suspended from Twitter for spamming.

Some reporters’ contact info won’t be brought up as well as some others, but make sure to find the right person to contact. If you’re Grasswire, don’t email the person who writes about The Internet of Things. It’s worth spending twice as much time to find the right person.

Now we’re going to open up the “BuzzBar,” which will let us go through our list of websites, open them up, and pull and send information to contacts. It will track the emails we’ve sent, remind us to send follow-ups, and let us get rid of the sites we don’t like.

I try to send 500/day if I’m working a full day (yes, it’s a full day’s work to send 500 emails).

Follow Up

If you don’t receive a response after a couple days, you can use BuzzStream to follow up. But don’t be annoying.

Remember that running a company is a marathon, not a sprint (a startup is kind of a sprint then a marathon), and you may want to get coverage from these reporters again. So be cordial, don’t burn any bridges, and be grateful if anyone writes about you.

Let me know how it worked for you on Twitter, and reach out to me by email (see the link in the navigation to the left) if you have any questions or concerns. If you are running into trouble other people might be too, so I’d love to help you out.