A short lesson in getting press

Everyone wants it.

Getting covered in the press is a game, and business, of eyeballs. Do you have what they want?

The other day, my Tapstream homie Mack and listened-in on a mentor session Jerrid Grimm, the VP of Client Service at Newad gave at Launch Academy (the sweet place we work out of). It was about how the advertising industry works, and how to go about buying and selling ads as an option to monetize or market your business. Pretty interesting.

What was even more interesting than the knowledge Jerrid was dropping though? The fact that he said he saw Tapstream in every major industry publication he read last week. Even if that was a slight exaggeration, hey, we’ll take it. So, how did that happen?

First a quick backgrounder
Tapstream does simple user analytics for desktop and mobile apps. Very simply, Tapstream tells people who have apps where their users are coming from. You see, companies and individuals are marketing their apps on social media, through email, with ads, and so on, but they have no idea which of those channels are actually driving users to install and use their app. Crazy huh? That’s right, they have no idea if any of the money they’re spending on advertisements is working better than Facebook or email or Twitter or vice versa. Tapstream solves that problem – and it’s a big one.

The logic of what “they” want

In order to earn yourself some eyeballs you need to figure out what “they” want.
The media company or publisher wants an audience of millions of eyeballs because they sell those eyeballs to advertisers.The audience wants stuff they’re interested in and you want the eyeballs of the audience who might like your product. As you can clearly see, the barrier between you and your prized audience is the publisher.

You -> The Press -> Audience eyeballs

or in this case:

Tapstream -> Tech blogs -> People who make/market apps

So, all you have to do then is give the press something that app people want right? Wrong.

You have to give the press something they think app people will understand instantly – what their audience will read, get excited about, and share – easy things.

App developers want Tapstream, they just don’t know it exists yet. And that’s every businesses’ problem.

Delivering digestible

The last company I worked with, Summify, was all about fighting information overload by creating email summaries of the daily news being fed to you by your social networks. It was a product that worked phenomenally well for busy people, and it helped thousands of people discover really great news by cutting out all the junk. Among many other things, I learned this while at Summify:

  • The amount of information people consume is ridiculous
  • Attention spans are incredibly short due to information overload and the constant interruptions and design of new tech
  • How to craft messages that are understandable and readable to people who know nothing and have A.D.D.

The latter has proven quite useful.

We’ve been cooking up some interesting stuff lately at Tapstream, but the trick is always ‘how can we get the press to talk about it?’ This time we had a good hook. Let me explain:

Firstly, have you heard of bit.ly? It’s the most popular url shortening service used by tons of people. It takes long url’s like:


and turns them into short ones like:


Both links go to the same place on the web, but these shortlinks are great for two reasons:

1. They make longer urls shorter (great for social media, especially Twitter due to the 140 character cap), and

2. They allow you to track how many clicks each one gets so you can see which topics you post online are more popular – very useful for marketing!

Now, in order for our customers to track where their users come from we use Tapstream links that look something like this:


Kinda long right?

So, we created the taps.io shortener for exactly those two reasons above. Now the links can look like this:


So how did we explain that simply? We used something internet people are already familiar with. Here comes the hook:

Taps.io is the bit.ly for app developers.

It’s digestible, it’s one line, it’s easy, it’s the first of its kind – a new category of url shorteners, just for app developers. It’s so easy to understand that non developer publications picked it up, like Canada’s largest marketing print publication, Marketing Magazine – where Jerrid heard about us.

The irony and takeaways

The Taps.io shortener literally changes nothing about the Tapstream product. Our technology and links still work in exactly the same way as they did before, delivering the exact same quality results for app developers who need valuable user analytics.

The most important piece of your product isn’t necessarily what will sell it to the press.

Our team is working really close to releasing some way more ground-breaking stuff, but our CEO @slaven has come to terms that it will probably be useless for the press – they just can’t talk about it. Our customers, however, will love it.

Know what’s for the press versus what is for your customers.

You can’t pitch the press on everything, so think about which parts of your product, service, or company actually matter to people and can fit into some easy, digestible, novel hook that the press can really use. Most people don’t like to consume complicated stories and that’s why big publications and media outlets shoot for simple.

Hopefully everything you make has your customers at heart, but you never know, you might find that a certain something that seems less important to the overall needs of your customers might just be the ingredient the press want to drop your story, your company, in front of all those eyeballs. And eyeballs talk.

Ride the wave
BetaKit was first out the gate, and dropped our story, on a Thursday. On Friday Marketing Magazine picked it up, and this week Sprouter named us a Hot Startup of The Week, featuring us in Sprouter Weekly – pretty cool. But what’s even cooler? They have a guest spot on the Financial Post.

Get the ball rolling, and it rolls.

I’m curious; what sort of hooks have worked well for you when you’ve pitched the press?

Copyright © Robin Campbell 2014