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Posts from the ‘Miscellaneous Thoughts’ Category

13
Jul

Former VentureBeat Writer Launches Tech Reporter Contact List

For startups looking for press coverage,  it is time consuming to collecting the contact information of tech reporters. Instead of having entrepreneurs and small businesses, which already have limited resources, spend hours finding the emails of technology reporters, we decided to spend 100 hours creating a comprehensive tech reporter contact list .

We have collected the contact information of the most popular tech websites, newspapers, bloggers, and reporters. We gathered emails, contact URLs, Twitter accounts, and added additional comments.

The Tech Reporter Contact List is here: http://www.brownsteinegusa.com/find-tech-reporters/

14
Jul

A Recommendation For Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey

One of the reasons Twitter is a more expendable platform than Facebook and LinkedIn is because people’s identities are not as tied to the service. Facebook profiles serve as social identities, LinkedIn as professional, and Twitter…

Twitter profiles do not fit into the identity equation, and this is the service’s largest weakness. The cost of switching over to other services is significantly lower on Twitter as compared to Facebook and LinkedIn. Put another way, I may/may not switch from Twitter to Google Plus, but I would kick and scream if anyone ever tried to remove my LinkedIn account.

How can Twitter become a larger part of a user’s identity?

Twitter Founders

Although this is a complicated question, I believe one solution is to advance the profile settings on Twitter.

As opposed to LinkedIn and Facebook, where a user can add a significant amount of information (Ex: work experience, about information, etc.), on Twitter a user can only add his or her name, location, one URL address, and a short description (160 characters or less).

Although I understand the importance of brevity with Twitter’s messaging platform, I do not see why the company needs to limit the length of a profile description. There are more than 160 characters in which I would like to describe myself, and there is more than one URL I would like to share.

Even if Twitter prefers to maintain brevity, they could add an “Optional Extended Profile”, which would allow users to fill in more information about themselves. This would greatly increase a user’s ties to the profile, and subsequently to the service itself.

Although Twitter continues to change it’s stated mission, in order for the site to be truly indispensible for users, the site needs to become a larger part of a user’s identity. A more extended profile is an important first step.

23
Jun

How To Contact Journalists

A friend emailed me the other day asking if I had any recommendations for how he could connect with a journalist from the tech site Mashable.

This is what I told him

(As a note, this is from my experience writing for VentureBeat).

1. Identify why you want to contact a journalist: The journalists you contact are very busy people (I would receive up to a dozen emails from PR reps every day).

You should never, under any circumstance, email a journalist asking an open ended question that will take a long time to answer. This is a sure way to guarantee that you will not receive a response.

How To Email JournalistsIf you ask a precise question that can be answered in under 10 seconds, you may receive a response (I am referring to emails, it is different in person). Journalists are bombarded with emails every day. If they do not know you and it is a long question, you will be ignored.

2. Write to a journalist as if they are your friend: Once you begin receiving emails every day from PR, the emails begin to look the same. When I was writing for VentureBeat, I would receive emails throughout the day with the same generic start:

“Dear Conrad, We thought this might be of interest to you.”

Literally dozens of emails would have this same beginning. If you receive 10 of these emails in a row, they become very easy to ignore. The formality and lack of human touch become off-putting.

My advice is to write to journalists as if they are your friends. Treat them like people. As an example, an email with the beginning line is much more effective than any generic sentence:

“Hey Conrad, saw we had a mutual friend and wanted to reach out.”

(I received this email earlier today. This was not an email regarding writing an article, but I did not know this person and I took the time to respond).

3. Respect their time: If you do not know the journalist personally, never ask to meet for a coffee (coffee does not only take 30 minutes, it disrupts someone’s day and with commuting can take over an hour). In fact, I would not even recommend asking for a phone call unless it is important. The best way I have found to connect with journalists and busy people in general is to show that you understand that their time is valuable and that although you would like to meet, you do not want to burden them at all. As an example, here is the email I wrote Steve Cheney (contributing writer at TechCrunch).

“I know you are very busy so I don’t want to take your time to grab a coffee, but I’m pretty involved in the NYC entrepreneurial scene and if you’re planning on attending an upcoming event in the future, it’d be great to hear just so I could introduce myself in person.

Hope to keep in touch and best wishes Steve.”

Fortunately for me, Steve and I were able to grab coffee the next day.

4. The second best way to meet a journalist is through an introduction: The site that is most effective in helping with this is LinkedIn. It is very easy to type in a journalist’s name and see if you have any mutual connections. If you do, it is just as easy to ask the person to make an introduction. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, you can ask to use their name in an email. As an example:

“Hey X, I saw you were connected to my friend Adam and he recommended I contact you regarding X.”

Through LinkedIn, I have 2 degrees of separation with over 200,000 people (and this is not unusual for people who actively use the site). There are a lot of people you can reach out to.

How To Contact JournalistsAs a note, remember that you need to have a legitimate reason for connecting with journalists. If you have an inquiry that you can find the answer to online, you should not waste anyone’s time. It is really important throughout this process that you respect everyone’s time (not only the journalist, but also your friends’ if they are helping ).

5. The best way to meet a journalist is in person: This is a lot easier to do than most people believe, particularly in the highly connected tech community. I took the elevator with TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld at one of the first NYC Tech events I attended and Michael Arrington sat in front of me at this year’s Tech Crunch Disrupt event in New York. An important part about networking is that it’s something you need to constantly do. If you just start one day and say, I need to connect with this person, then you put yourself in a much harder position than if you had been meeting and following up with people the entire time.

Media publications hold a lot of events; they are more common than you think. At every one of these media events I have attended, a high percentage of journalists at the company have attended. As an example of an upcoming media event, here is a posting by VentureBeat: http://venturebeat.com/2011/06/21/reminder-venturebeat-and-demo-in-vancouver-thursday.

Another way to find events which journalists frequently attend is to ask well connected entrepreneurs. These people  tend to enjoy helping others and are happy to recommend events where they have encountered journalists.

Resources

1. Great article on how to set up meetings with busy individuals by Marketing.fm  http://www.marketing.fm/2009/10/22/how-to-setup-an-appointment/

2. Tip for what you should not do in arranging meetings by Vinicius Vacanti http://viniciusvacanti.com/2011/01/24/stop-saying-let-me-know-when-works-for-you/

3. Great video by Mark Suster and Michael Robertson on how to build relationships with reporters (about halfway through the video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMPnB0uxKTo&feature=related

2
Feb

What I Learned From My First 30 Days Of Blogging

I started blogging 30 days ago. Here are highlights and what I learned from my first month of blogging:

1. I was asked to audition as a contributing writer to VentureBeat: As an indirect result of blogging, I was asked to try out as a writer. I ended up serving as a contributing writer for the company for several months.

Lesson Learned: Create serendipity when you can. You never know where it will lead to.

2. The CTO of Blekko, Greg Lindahl, commented on my article: After writing an article on the future of search as a response to TechCrunch writer Vivek Wadha’s article, I tweeted to Vivek, which led to him retweeting my article. A spike in traffic followed.

Lesson learned: Just as important as the content you write are the people you tell. I’m a fan of Vivek’s writing, and Blekko is an internet darling, so this was a neat experience.

What I Learnt From Blogging

3. Grabbed coffee with TechCrunch contributor Steve Cheney: As an indirect result of blogging, I had the chance to meet Steve, a popular writer currently working at GroupMe. Over coffee he told me that nothing has had a greater impact on his career, including his MBA degree from Columbia, than his decision to blog. He’s a great guy doing really exciting things.

Lesson Learned: As Steve said to me, writing doesn’t just allow you to join a community, it gives you a voice. That platform you create for yourself can be meaningful. (As an aside, Steve has a great blog here).

4. One of my articles hit the home page of HackerNews: I received over 1,000 unique visitors that day and it was exciting to see the article highlighted on a website that I read daily.

Lesson learned: First, don’t underestimate the value community websites bring, particularly HackerNews. I now have a greater appreciation for the icons that allow you to submit articles to 3rd party websites (Digg, Reddit, etc). Second, it’s very important that readers have the ability to share your content. A study showed that blogs that implemented Facebook Like buttons had average traffic increases of 50%.

In addition to the above highlights, here are some more lessons learned:

5. Don’t chase the news: Although chasing hot topics in the news can be alluring, particular with the attention you receive if you break a story, it is difficult to consistently write about new topics and the space is competitive. If you are interested in building your blog for the long term, a more sustainable approach is to focus on being a thought leader in one space. In this past month there were times I found myself writing about recent events instead of startup marketing, and I need to have better discipline.

6. You never know with traffic: In this past month there were several days the website had spikes in traffic (due to HackerNews or a Twitter RT). I ended up averaging around 80 unique visitors a day (2341 total monthly visitors), although traffic was skewed towards particular days. What I found interesting was that even on low traffic days, over 20 users would still visit the website. It was encouraging to see the website’s traffic not dip to zero.

Lessons From Blogging

7. Your blog is part of your digital resume: I remember a post from Fred Wilson saying that in interviews, he rarely asks for a person’s resume. Instead, he asks to see their blog. The reason is that a person can embellish their resume, but it is difficult hide their true self in 50+ articles they write. As this has been my first time dedicating myself to a blog, it has been comforting to know that I can refer others to my writing. The blog has become a part of my online identity, similar to my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

8. Appreciate the craft of writing: Writing is hard. Writing well is even harder. After blogging for 30 days, I have a newfound respect for the profession.

9. Understand the difficulty and time involved: It’s challenging to write on a consistent basis and it requires a lot of discipline. It was hard enough for me to write articles weekly, let alone write daily as some bloggers do. I believe the best way to consistently write is to have a partner who is also interested in blogging.

Writing also takes a lot of time. I still need to go back to review earlier articles and to optimize them for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

10. Importance of digging into WordPress: Although I have played around with WordPress in the past, it was fun to delve into the system, add plugins, edit themes, and so on. I feel I have a much better understanding for the CMS having started this blog.

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience from the first month of blogging. If you haven’t considered blogging, I strongly recommend you try.

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