5 killer pitch tips for tech start ups

Whether this is your first tech start up or your tenth, you will need to build a PR strategy from scratch, one that is developed to fit your specific business plan. Critical to the success of this strategy will be how your company interacts with the media. The editorial landscape varies from country to country and different contacts like to work with vendors in different ways. For your start up’s PR programme to be success you need to know your targets and tailor your pitches accordingly.

While the cookie cutter approach does not work, there are a few common principles for pitching targets via email that apply no matter who you are approaching, or where in the world they are based. Below we list five tips to create a killer pitch for tech startups; adopt them, and your pitch success rate will increase significantly:

1. Spend time on the subject line:
If you want your recipient to open and read your email, you need to grab their attention with a catchy subject line. This means using keywords this journalist is interested in: these could be ‘out of stealth’, ‘funding news’, ‘new data storage company’, the name of an end user you are announcing (or ‘customer story’ if the name is not well known), ‘new product’, ‘independent test results’, etc. Sometimes you can use the title of the announcement you are issuing. Whatever you select, make sure your subject line is relevant, clear, and short.

2. What, why, where, when:
Do not overcomplicate your pitch. This is really all you need to include:

  1. What are you announcing?
  2. Why is it relevant to the recipient
  3. Where in the world/company is it happening? This is particularly important if you are announcing funding (where will the funding be spent?), a new customer (where is the company located?), or a new product (where will it be available?)
  4. When is the product being launched? The company expansion taking place? The new programme kicking off?

3. Do not ramble on:
Pitches should be brief and to the point. Your recipient is unlikely to read each of their emails in detail; make sure your key points are clear from a quick skim read. Besides of course being relevant, at A3 Communications we like our pitches to be: 1. Clear, 2. Concise, and 3. Exhaustive. Two or three paragraphs should be all you need to outline your story. You can add one more to introduce your company if this target is not familiar with it: why was the company founded? When? Where? What is the issue it aims to address? How is it funded? How big is it? Does it have any customers yet? Journalists receive tens, if not hundreds, of pitches daily. Why should they be interested in your pitch over others? How do you stand out from your competitors? What is unique about your story?

4. Avoid jargon:
If I could, I would list this twice; it is that important. Jargon does not make you sound smarter – it makes it sound like you only know how to talk to your peers. Drop jargon and TLAs!

5. Talk about benefits, not just features:
Whenever you pitch, and generally talk to, the press, make sure you talk about business benefits (e.g. increased productivity, faster time-to-market, etc.), not just tech features (e.g. faster performance, greater interoperability, etc). Most writers will be interested to learn about the impact of your solution beyond the datacentre. This will also prepare you for when you start reaching out to the business press.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.’ There is of course more to the art of writing a killer pitch than the five tips above. Especially since what makes it a killer pitch varies from journalist to journalist. Some may like plenty of tech background, so you could close your email with a few links to datasheets and research for example, while others may prefer to go straight for a briefing. Whatever the case, always close your pitch with the offer to share more information via email, phone, Zoom, or even over lunch (especially if you are going to be in France)!

Invest time in getting to know your media contacts and how they like to be pitched: you will soon become the start up they will be writing about.

  1. Spend time on the subject line
  2. What, why, where, when
  3. Do not ramble on
  4. Avoid jargon
  5. Talk about benefits, not just features
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