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Aug 29, 2008

PR Interview: Pitch TechCrunch to Introduce Your Start-up to Millions

SUMMARY: TechCrunch is one of the largest and most linked-to technology blogs. If you’re a start-up that wants to attract some attention and maybe some funding, TechCrunch is the place for you. Millions of venture capitalists, consumers, media outlets, and your competitors read the blog.
Contact Information

Erick Schonfeld



Schonfeld became Co-Editor of TechCrunch about a year ago. Until last year, he spent seven years as a staff writer and contributing editor at Fortune. For seven years before that, he wrote features and operated the Next Net blog at Business 2.0, a monthly magazine for Time Inc. He’s been covering start-ups and technology news for 14 years.


TechCrunch attracts 2 to 3 million unique Web visitors per month and has 904,000 RSS feed subscribers.

Editorial Coverage

Schonfeld describes TechCrunch’s coverage as news that’s related to Web start-ups and major Web companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! “You have the start-ups at one end where the cool innovation is happening and big companies on the other end that absorb the innovation in one way or another,” he says. “All the activity in between -- that’s our coverage universe.”

TechCrunch bloggers write about everything from Digg’s new Digg Dialogue feature used to collect questions for politicians to Google’s RideTheCity map application used to find the safest bicycle routes to and from destinations in cities.

Coverage includes mergers, acquisitions, and new funding received by start-ups.

“Anytime a start-up is going to launch or there’s a new feature set or a major change, we want to cover it obsessively,” Schonfeld says.

TechCrunch profiles Web companies featured on the blog in its company index:

And in CrunchBase:

Pitching: 4 Dos and 3 Don’ts

Schonfeld believes PR isn’t doing a great job addressing the blogosphere. TechCrunch Founder and Co-Editor Michael Arrington shares that outlook. He wrote in a blog post that most PR professionals don’t read blogs and, therefore, don’t understand how blogs are different from traditional media. They apply the same rules to connecting with bloggers as they do to reaching out to print journalists.

Here are some dos and don’ts for pitching to TechCrunch:

0 Don’t: Send a press release

Schonfeld receives hundreds of press releases per week. He ignores most of them. What captures his attention is the relationship he has with a company. He generally doesn’t need PR pros to create those relationships because he has established those relationships on his own.

0 Do: Send alerts

Schonfeld appreciates being alerted when something new is going on with a company. Sending an email with three sentences that informs him what’s going on and why it’s important is a huge help, he says.

0 Do: Give a heads-up before news hits the wires

TechCrunch often gets pitched when the news has already hit the wire services. At that point, writers ignore it unless it’s something they missed or it’s really big news. The best posts are the ones that allow the writers to have a few days or hours to work on. Offering the pitch before it hits the wires helps establish a good relationship with the writers.

0 Do: Make it exclusive

PR professionals generally send the same news to top technology blogs at the same time, Schonfeld says. This dilutes the value of the news because all of the bloggers cover it.

TechCrunch avoids this by:
- Being the first to cover news
- Getting the exclusive
- Covering a different angle

Schonfeld appreciates getting an exclusive or at least being told up front that the news is being pitched to a lot of people. TechCrunch honors embargoes – writers won’t publish news until the company wants it released. And the writers prioritize exclusive information above everything else.

0 Don’t: Pitch if you haven’t read the blog

This is most annoying to TechCrunch. It creates more irrelevant items for them to delete from their inboxes.

0 Don’t: Request a background meeting

Writers get many requests for background meetings with company founders and CEOs. They rarely have the time. A better approach is to contact a writer when the company has news and pitch the background meeting then.

0 Do: Try to get out of the way

Schonfeld always responds more to CEOs sending email pitches than to PR pros.

Pitch to Pitches

The blog recently launched a beta site called Pitches – a collection of user-generated videos of founders and CEOs. They present 60-second sound bites about their companies for viewers to rank and provide feedback.

Pitches accepts video blurbs from start-ups and established companies. It’s a good idea to send your videos if you’re a new company since each pitch gets automatically inserted into CrunchBase as a profile. Those profiles generally wind up on the first page of Google search results when people search for a company.

What you need to do:
-Create the video
-Upload it to YouTube
-Submit the URL to Pitches

“We’re really looking for a real pitch from the CEO or founder,” Schonfeld says. “It’s about them talking and how good they are at doing that.”

TIP: Use a microphone. Having good sound is half the battle of producing a decent video that people want to sit through and comment on. TechCrunch editors review the videos and highlight the best ones each week.

Useful links related to this article


TechCrunch blog post on PR practices:

See Also:

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