How to get me to talk about your startup

Tips for pitching newsletter curators. 

1.5 year ago, I started my newsletter to encourage more innovation in music. It has allowed me to shine a spotlight on people, startups, and music companies that are doing fascinating things. I’m really flattered that so many people have signed on and always have something positive to say.

However, I’m not a journalist, and it was never my aim to set up my newsletter as a journalistic medium. My day job as Product Director of IDAGIO, where we’re reinventing streaming for classical music, has me so occupied that it’s often hard to find enough time to put out my newsletter. Many weeks, I get up a few hours early on Monday morning to make sure I get the newsletter done before work starts. I wouldn’t have it any other way: I love what I’m doing.

This means that the typical way you’d approach a journalist really doesn’t work for me.

Don’t send me press releases

Press releases have annoying structures to read and you never really learn much more than what could fit into a tweet. I could never really be bothered with reading them, but now that I’m busier, it really takes some strong willpower to read it. I can only muster that willpower for:

  • Friends / acquaintances;
  • Companies I follow because I love what they’re doing;
  • Bizarre / unique / remarkable announcements.

Nearly no announcement falls into that last category.

Secondly, press releases don’t correspond with the format of articles I do, so it’s a nightmare to incorporate a press release announcement into an article, and I definitely won’t like a press release from my newsletter (with some very rare exceptions).

Don’t pitch curators with press releases.

Don’t let your publicist do the work

This may work for some journalistic publications, but I’m trying to do something different, so I prefer to hear straight from a founder, product person, or someone who’s involved in strategic decision-making.

I try my best to make my newsletter inspiring, thoughtful, and something that people can learn from… PR statements that are signed off on rarely correspond with those criteria.

Oh, and by the way: if you’re working with an agency, check in with them every now and then. There’s one that has been particularly persistent in sending press releases to me, even after I asked him to stop because I’m not interested in the startup’s domain (and he said he would). Then he resumed 2 months later, and just keeps spamming. This does not make me think better about your startup, and kind of makes me want to avoid you altogether, because I don’t feel like dealing with a pushy company culture.

Do write about what you’re doing

The BEST way to get into my newsletter is by writing an article about what you’re doing. However, it can’t be a press release or an announcement, it has to be something like a Medium post that people can learn from. Here are some examples:

These are valuable to my readers, and they’re valuable to me.

Simply: make sure people can learn something from what you’re doing. Don’t sell too hard.

Do get in touch with me directly

Back when I was still doing MUSIC x TECH X FUTURE full-time, I opened all communication channels, including a message for new subscribers to my email to tell me what they’re up to. I also highly encourage replies to my newsletters with feedback, since it guides me in my decision making for upcoming weeks. I also love a good conversation or thought-provoking comment, despite not having as much time to engage with everything anymore.

(by the way, if you want to strike up an interesting conversation, you can also jump into the community: MxTxF Backstage — no self-promo please :)).

I try to reply to every email I get… if I don’t, it’s often because I saw your email, considered it important to get a proper response, saved it for later, and then forgot… so don’t be shy & send a reminder.

One thing I don’t really have much time for nowadays is doing Skype calls. I don’t really enjoy calling, and they really cut into my free time, since I have to make arrangements to be at home. I go to a lot of events (next up: BIME & Slush Music + Slush), so catch me at one of those if you’d like to chat in person — and please don’t turn that meeting into a sales pitch.

Do everything you can to make it really easy for me to include you

Make a Medium post. Make sure it’s well-written. Familiarize yourself with the newsletter, what I write about, and what I’ve written about before. Make sure your post fits well into this context. And send it over with a brief intro.

The things I look for are:

  1. Does this introduce a new perspective?
  2. Can my readers learn from this?
  3. Have I read something like this before?
  4. Does this have an innovative angle?
  5. Is this something I would write about?

I consider #5 even when just featuring someone else’s writing in my newsletter.

Who I write about

I write about the people that are top of mind. People I run into in conferences a lot. People that have been long-time followers of my newsletters. Companies that I think are innovative and doing interesting things.

It’s rare that I will immediately write about something I discover. In many cases, I’ll be following something for many months before I write about it. This has a lot to do with my writing process.

If I get up at 5.30 in the morning on Monday and start writing, I’m going to write about what’s top of mind. I’m going to use examples to explain topics that are top of mind. The things that are top of mind are things I feel strongly about; things that I either love or hate (and I don’t write about the latter, because I want the newsletter to be uplifting and motivating — no time to deal with what we don’t like, when we can achieve so much success by focusing on the positive).

Concluding

All in all, it’s pretty simple: write something that I can easily feature, get in touch directly over email or Twitter, and make sure it’s something people on my newsletter will learn from.

This goes for every newsletter out there, and for every conference curator too by the way.

READ MORE: Moving up the music curation food chain

Oh, and one more thing, since I realized I may be opening some content floodgates here: make sure your writing is timely and timeless. I only put 10 links into each newsletter (3 per category + 1 fun link). If your piece gets outdated 1 or 2 weeks later, I’ll never be able to feature it. Even then: if I think most of the newsletter subscribers will have read it already, I tend not to feature. Tough choices.

I love hearing about innovation in music & love being part of this community.

Keep me up to date!