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How to pitch to journalists: Quick guide for founders

Finding journalists and pitching your stories to them isn’t rocket science, but it requires time for self-analysis and research.

Stories written and pitched by Flyer One Ventures have been published by reputable media outlets such as TechCrunch, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Sifted, among others.

In this story, we aim to answer some common questions you might have about pitching.

Where to start looking for contacts

First, you should understand what you can write about. What's your expertise? You might be running an edtech startup and have insights on the future of education. Or your company builds AI tools, and you have opinions about AI. It could be anything that you feel strongly about.

Or perhaps, you just want to pitch a press release. What is your industry?

Write down keywords around your topics (e.g. edtech startup, online education, AI, automation) and come up with a couple of potential headlines. Then feed all of this to Google and see which media cover these topics — they are your targets.

Once you have your hit list, you can begin the search for general emails and emails of the relevant journalists.

General emails belong to “contact us” sections. Take a look at the ones on the TechCrunch, Silicon Canals, and Sifted websites (click on the links). Note that some general emails can be for news editors, others — for opinion editors.

TechCrunch even has a separate, detailed post on how to submit opinions to them: “How to submit a guest column to TechCrunch.”

Personal emails can be trickier to find. If they aren’t in the “contact us” section, they are in author profiles. Read the stories that cover your topics and click on their authors, where there’s usually an email address and social media profiles.

Google search tip

Type in “ + your keywords” in the search bar and you will see all the instances when TechCrunch published these keywords. Works for any website.

On X (Twitter), LinkedIn, and Facebook, journalists can sometimes post guides on how to pitch them. Some say they only read emails, others can accept submissions on social media.

Prepare the list of contacts and pitch your story in a personalized way — show journalists you’ve read their stories and know why exactly they should be interested in your piece.

How to write a subject line

The subject line of your email sets the tone for everything that follows. Be precise and avoid words like “unique,” “solution,” “revolutionizing,” “leading,” “pioneering,” and “product.” Describe exactly what you are pitching — no bullshit. Try writing them as if they are headlines.

Good tries:

  • Ukrainian startup attracts $2M, uses AI to replace humans in sales

  • Ukrainian startup raises $2M, Obama among investors

  • Obama invested in Ukrainian startup in $2M round

  • Op-ed: How to prepare for due diligence: Checklist for founders

  • Recruiting Metrics Every Startup Founder Should Track – Guest Post Outline

You may add the word “exclusive” if you are offering exclusive news.

Are there any dos and don'ts

Yes, there are.

If it’s a press release, the pitch should a) contain only the key facts and the link to your Google Doc, or b) just as plain text in the body of your letter. It's not comme il faut to attach docs or PDFs to emails.

Here are several more things you should never do when pitching.

❌ Never ask permission to send a release or a guest post suggestion. It’s like saying “hi” in a messenger and waiting for someone to say “hi” in return, before actually asking what you wanted. Just send it.

❌ Never bore journalists with your biography. Instead, focus on conveying how you can be of help to them.

❌ Never send the same email to different journalists. There’s no personality in this approach. What would you think if you saw “Dear Sir or Madam” in your inbox? Do you think it’s something thrilling?

❌ Never pitch an exclusive story to several journalists. It can backfire. If you offer exclusive news to a particular journalist, wait for a response for at least a couple of days. If there's no reply, follow up indicating your intention to move on. Also note: Once you publish something on LinkedIn, it no longer remains exclusive for journalists.

❌ Never promise to respond and then disappear for days. Doing so may require you to restart your conversation, and journalists might lose interest in your story.

Here’s a template of an alright email for pitching a press release.

​Hi Denys,

You once told me on X (Twitter) that you have a particular interest in stories with young founders, and also, since you covered 11xAI's recent round, I want to offer you exclusive news about another startup in this area.

Ukraine-founded startup attracts $3M, uses AI to help programmers write code

Toronto-based PiuPiu, an AI tool that helps programmers write code, has raised $3M in a Seed round of funding.

Forum Ventures, Hustle Fund, N49P, Flair Ventures, ZAKA VC, League of Innovators, Flyer One Ventures, AAl VC, and Vesna Capital participated in the funding round.

Here is a short press release with additional details: Google Doc.

Please, let me know what you think.


Here are more alright pitch templates, take a look.

How to follow up

Journalists may not respond immediately (unfortunately). But you should avoid bombarding them on every possible platform like WhatsApp, Telegram, and other social media. Trying to reach them everywhere might only alienate them — just follow up.

You can follow up by sending a new email with the same text; or it can be an email offering additional data or an interview with the founder. It can also be “just a kind reminder” about your pitch and a polite question about what else you could offer.

Sending 2 follow-ups is usually enough. No reply yet? Move on, talk to other media.

When (if) journalists reply, they may ask you to help them with an additional quote, or ask you to rewrite some parts of your opinion. It’s absolutely fine, and you should do it as fast as possible.

Throughout your communication with a journalist, regardless of the outcome, always remain polite. Consider if your conversation were to be leaked; would you feel embarrassed by it? Conduct yourself in a way that you wouldn't.

✅ Text journalists during their regular working hours unless you have breaking news. Consider checking their time zones or geolocation on their social media profiles.

✅ Maintain a polite and professional tone; avoid using informal terms like "sis" or "bro." Keep the communication neutral until you both establish a preferred mode of interaction. Let the relationship evolve naturally, akin to a gradual friendship.

✅ Consider the journalist's perspective and how you can be helpful to them. You could provide additional contacts, give more information about the company, and send vivid quotes; always meet the deadlines.

Be ready for possible mistakes in a published story. Mistakes happen sometimes. In journalism, they are inevitable and always unintentional. If you see that some facts are wrong, write a polite email explaining what isn’t right.

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Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

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