Allow me to answer a question I’m sure you’ve been dying to ask but have to much tact to shoot at me point-blank: Why didn’t I cover your startup? [tweetmeme source=”jolieodell” only_single=false]
You have a website or a web or mobile app.
You launched today/this week/this month. Or you made some feature changes. Or you announced a partnership.
You and about 50 other companies.
As I’m sure you’re aware, this is a competitive market. Not just competitive in terms of getting press — fuck press. It’s cutthroat in terms of getting customers, advertisers, investors, someone/anyone to foot the bill for your brilliant idea.
And I don’t say that sarcastically. Most of the time, your ideas are actually quite excellent.
It’s just that there are so many of them. And so many of you. And you all want my attention. My full attention followed by my immediate action. And you want it right now. Or tomorrow morning. Or next week when your site launches and your embargo lifts.
You like math? Let’s try a word problem.
- If 50-75 of you email me two or three times each in a single week, as you often do, that adds up to roughly 150 emails. If I take 5 minutes to read each one, go over the attached press release, and check out the screen shots, that eats up 12.5 hours.
- If I wrote a blog post about 20% of you — that’s just 10 companies — I would normally take about 2 hours to research your company, check out your funding situation, find out who your founders are, test your app, grab some screenshots, look up your competitors, research any other coverage you’ve gotten, and a few other under-the-hood maneuvers. That adds up to 20 hours of work, about half my work week’s worth of hours.
- If I investigate the products of a further 50% of you, spending just 15 minutes on the website of each company, that takes another hour a day or so.
- All in all, if I let them, startups would take up so much of my time that I’d have just one hour a week to answer emails, write about big tech company news from Google or Facebook, edit the videos I’ve been shooting all week, take meetings with my colleagues at Mashable, write features about web development or mobile apps or open-source software, cover and speak at conferences, and all the million other tasks I have to do as a journalist.
Let’s get real: That schedule doesn’t work for me.
I love startups, but Mashable is not a startup blog. I’m not a startup journalist. I can’t devote as much time or energy as you want me to on startups. (If I worked at VentureBeat, the entire situation would be different.)
When I do decide to allocate some of my personal resources toward startups, I make my decision largely based on what will perform well on Mashable. That’s probably not going to be an enterprise product or a $500K Series A for an app with 100,000 users. We spend a lot of time in our editorial chat room trying to figure out which news items will make the cut on any given day, so I’m not alone when making these decisions, either.
So, in the interest of hard, cold reality, this is why I didn’t cover your startup. It has nothing to do with how good your product is, how persistent you are in emailing me, how much I am posting on any site on any given day, whether or not I covered your competitor, or any such factors.
It comes down to two things: I don’t have the time, and it’s not right for Mashable.
But, and this is crucial to note, just because I didn’t cover you today doesn’t mean I’ll never write about you. Ask Forrst. Ask Brightkite. Ask a dozen or more startups that thought they were at the bottom of my email’s dustbin when their post hit Mashable. Sometimes, I really want to cover you but I need to wait for a rainy day when I have some more bandwidth.
Mashable isn’t the end-all-be-all for you, though. Yes, it’s a huge blog — the biggest tech blog on the web. But that doesn’t mean that Mashable coverage is the best you can do for your app. Reach out to niche publications and individual influencers. Reach out to ReadWriteStart, VentureBeat, and other startup-specific blogs. Reach out to someone who cares about your specific vertical, be it security, enterprise email, whatever. But when you reach out, focus on just a few people, and focus on people you know will care about what you’re doing.
Finally, because I really, truly do love startups and would love to be able to cover them all, I’ve started highlighting every piece of news that people tweet at me, message me about, or email to me. This happens once or twice a week on my personal blog. If you want to pitch me, you can pitch me here. If you land on the Jolie O’Dell blog instead of Mashable, I really pray you’ll understand that I still think you’ve got a great idea and would love to help you out.
Also, if you apply for Mashable’s startup series, those pitches get special consideration in the deluge of emails we receive each day. We cover one startup per day, Monday through Friday.
Thanks for reading, thanks for pitching, and I love you guys and wish you every kind of success.