Crack the Code: Pitching Tech and Startup Stories

With the media echo chamber focusing on the same top tier tech companies, startups have a harder time getting noticed. But at least now your client’s company doesn’t have to be from Silicon Valley to gain media traction. New York’s own Silicon Alley has attracted increased attention from tech reporters, due in part to the success of startups such as foursquare and As Devindra Hardawar, national editor for VentureBeat, said, “Now what’s happening in New York has become fascinating.”

Hardawar appeared on a panel at a PCNY event on Tuesday that also included NYC-based editors and reporters covering the tech and startups beat from GigaOM, Mashable, Business Insider and WNYC’s New Tech City morning radio show. The event was a follow-up to a June PCNY panel centered on mobile–and this time the topic was breaking through in the complex tech and startups space.

Recent stories the panelists wrote or produced should give PR pros some hints about the angles that hook them. Ki Mae Heussner, staff writer for GigaOM, focused on content hackathons as the future of textbooks. Alyson Shontell, an SAI editor for Business Insider, wrote about the size of startup companies’ user bases and whether ten million is the new one million when it comes to users. WNYC’s New Tech City radio host Manoush Zomorodi produced a segment featuring reporters learning to code. As Zomoradi observed, “their visits to different code training venues added texture and flavor” to reflect the reporters’ experiences.

Among the panelists’ content-related suggestions: “feed journalists data on new trends”. Zomorodi also advised following a civic-minded approach. Example: highlighting tech firms’ superstorm Sandy recovery efforts. Mashable tech reporter Samantha Murphy noted that a company in a more remote location might also spark media interest. For example, the Midwest is also making its mark on the tech map–see Google fiber’s base in Kansas City.

Other avenues the panelists suggested for generating exposure are less common but still worth trying. Sometimes they attend TechStars Demo Days and cover selected startups featured there. Another option is to use different types of pitchmen. Shontell and Hardawar are receptive to hearing directly from venture capitalists, while Heussner is open to receiving pitches from startup founders. Blogs like VentureBeat and GigaOM also welcome key tech industry players to write guest posts.