For my new startup, I've tried contacting numerous blogs, newspapers, news channels, and other media channels to help feature my startup.
I've written kind, catchy, short, and to the point emails to many people with no success.
Is there a method where I can grab someone's attention to feature my start up in a media source?
If you're going to go the press release route, many members of the online (and offline) media will tell you their preferred method of contact, whether it is through Twitter, email, their website, etc. To get coverage, I'd recommend actually researching each person and finding out what they like, what they cover, and what they don't like. Tailor each message to the person or organization, don't just do a blanket PR message. Another method is to use HARO.
Also, don't promise an exclusive with someone only to release it to others at the same time. It doesn't make for a very good start to the relationship.
That said, your startup needs to solve a problem in a unique and compelling way. If it doesn't, most members of the media will see right through your press release. At the very least, it needs to be newsworthy.
The best way of promotion is to get others to start talking about you and your startup. Many times, if you can get a large community behind you, the media coverage will follow.
Put yourself in the media's shoes. They want to get more eyeballs. What do you have that's going to get them eyeballs? What are you doing for their community/audience?
Do you remember in 2009 when every news network, newspaper, blog, etc featured a story about an opening for "The Best Job in the World"? A resort island off the coast of Australia was looking for an island/resort “caretaker” to fill a 6-month position that was going to pay $150,000 (at a time when many people were losing jobs and homes).
They created/became "the news”. It was also one of the most successful PR efforts of all time. As I understand it, this PR compaign was sponsored by the local tourism group. Within two days, it went viral and within 3-weeks of executing their “press releases”, bookings at the closest international airport were up substantially. That's PR with measurable results.
What are you doing (or willing to do) that will be the news that gets you the free press that you are seeking?
The main theme here is not to appear as a spammer. Instead of sending them a mail such as "Hey, I have a web and it's cool, write about it!" you should invite them to use your service (for free!) and, if they find it useful and remarkable, they will write about it.
Hope it helps.
Can I recommend the neglected art of letter writing? (OK, it doesn't have to be snail mail - by 'letter' I mean anything written letter-style.)
Even if you assume nobody's interested in your startup (and why should anyone care that you or I have started a business?), presumably the problem you're solving for people is interesting. And presumably you have and are adding to your knowledge about the domain of that problem.
So read publications that take letters and bloggers who quote correspondence. Look out for places where your expertise gives you a fresh angle on a story which is somehow incomplete - maybe it's controversial, maybe the writer is quoting a variety of opinions but leaving the topic open, maybe there are specific questions posed.
So now you have the raw material for a letter. Pare back your opinion to the essentials - and work out how the person who reviews it will be able easily to check that you have credentials to back what you say. Provide simple information. And don't plug your startup or pitch your proposition.
Like press releases, letters are frustrating. You can write a dozen fantastic letters and see nothing published. But if you persist, letters are a way of getting onto a writer's map, each one can be fresh and topical, and you're showing how you value the writer because you've read what they've written and thought about it.
This isn't an alternative to persisting and refining releases of whatever form. But it is something that works well side-by-side, and especially in the periods where, if you're honest, you have nothing new to say about your startup.
A couple of news reporters noted that they like people who send them good quality leads a couple of times a week. They're then more interested in hearing what you have to say. You have to schmooz them a little with some quality leads to get that relationship going.