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?


Exactly a year after joining Summify, I’ve found myself on a new team, and one that I’m just as excited about. So, how did I end up here at Tapstream? Funny story. I called a guy a noob and he hired me.

Launched in early May 2012, Tapstream helps iOS, Android and Mac developers discover where their users come from – which websites, emails, tweets or web ads are actually turning incoming website visitors into app users. In terms of other services out there, Tapstream bridges the gap between Google’s web analytics and Flurry’s in-app analytics. Basically we tell you how people surfing the web end up in your app.

Before Tapstream came along, if you entered the App store and installed an app, the developer of that app would have no idea how you ended up in the App Store to install it. Did you come from a social network like Facebook or Twitter? Did you click through from an email campaign, ad, or landing page? No one knew. App marketers and developers were clueless. Now Tapstream helps any one with an app efficiently grow their web marketing campaigns, allowing them to calculate ROI and customer lifetime value for each web channel. App marketing just got smarter.

So far our kickass team is about five deep and is split between Victoria and Vancouver. As for me, I’m heading marketing along side the head noob, @slaven. I’m super stoked to refine all of what I learned while building Summify’s community, and take things to the next level with a metrics driven approach to our campaigns.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last year, it’s that data is king. Test, test, test, collect the data and then make decisions. Never assume people’s needs or behaviour, because you’re wrong 99% of the time.

Curious to here more about Tapstream? Check out our blog or follow @tapstreamapp on Twitter for all sorts of geeky app marketing stuff. For example, we just launched a sweet tool called Review Bar that helps developers get more 5 star ratings for their apps.

Hold tight. More updates to come!

I Called a Guy a Noob and He Hired Me

Weird right?

In June 2011, I was transitioning between the dance organization I’d founded, Famous Circle, and joining a team of romanian hackers who wanted to change the game in online news consumption – Summify. Super inspired by my new team and what I had accomplished in the b-boy community, I really wanted to create a place where I could share my thoughts, ideas and projects: a hub where you could find out what I’m working on, how I think, and what I’m down with. I wanted a vehicle that would help me connect with cool people who were like-minded. Now here we are. Step 1: create a vehicle for calling someone a noob – complete.

A few weeks after the site was up I started writing a post called Why Noobs Win. At the time I was really beginning to notice which characteristics make some teachers great and some wicked terrible. I also realized that everyone who I really enjoyed being around – regardless of their skills and amazing talents – was a humble human being.

As I was writing, @slaven began following me on Twitter. His bio read:

Perfect! I snapped a screenshot and he was the star of my post (a pretty big deal for a blog with 7 hits).

I tweeted:

He responded:


That was that. Step 2: call a dude a noob – complete

Then my time at Summify came to an end.

Just after the christmas holidays, the tech media were on the edge of their seats speculating at what Twitter’s next move was going to be. On January 19, 2012 we dropped the news that Summify was joining the flock at Twitter, every major tech blog in North America covered the acquisition, but nobody on the inside had made a peep. Then I wrote: What I Learned At Summify Before Twitter Swooped Down And Snatched Up My Team.

Mircea, one of the Summify co-founders, submitted the story to hacker news, it trended, people shared it and I got to meet a few interesting tech peeps for coffee. Lesson learned: when eyes and ears are on a hot topic in a small community, and you know something that no one else does, well, people read that stuff. Mission: meet some cool people – accomplished.

During this spike in my coffee dating schedule, Slaven dished me a tweet and thought it’d be interesting to actually meet (he probably just wanted to call me names). Of course I was in. I love noobs.

We went to the Gallery cafe on Robson street in Vancouver and I had the best time. The exchange was great. We chatted, I ate a nanaimo bar, and he was awesome. I can’t remember when I’ve had a more easy-going natural conversation with someone I’ve never met. Turns out he’s a tech guy who used to live in Victoria (my home town), but was now in Vancouver. He’s been around the block, developed some Windows software stuff, did some internet marketing, and sold his previous company to some people in France. The guy isn’t only down-to-earth awesome, he’s smart. Step 3: meet the noob – complete.

In the meantime, I had been contemplating what to do with my life and decided that it was time to move out of my parents house and head to Vancouver. It’s expensive here. I spent $7,000 in two months. I wanted to cry. Instead I jumped on the coffee circuit again and started chatting with startups about potential opportunities. A few months passed, it was May, and I felt like I was getting closer to locking down a new project. Then I got some LinkedIn mail. It was from Slaven and it went something like:

Subject: Work

Hey Asshole! (Read: Hey Robin!)

Our new company Tapstream.com is just getting started. We’re raising money at the moment and looking for someone with your skills. We’re doing this and that, and would like to do this and that. Sound interesting? Let me know!


Coffee date booked. Back to our first meeting place, the Gallery cafe. Muy romantico.

Awesome conversation ensued, and even thought it was about work, I didn’t feel like I had to put on some front. I was 100% myself and felt I could literally tell him anything. So, when other’s were asking me where I wanted to be in the next year or so, I would tell them something, and Slaven the truth: South America! He responded something like “Wow, that’s really cool!” Is this guy for real? Seriously.

The next week we booked a lunch date with the rest of the Tapstream team (co-founder Ben, and head dev Nick), who were flying in from Victoria to come meet me. We had a solid meet and greet lunch at Cardero’s – beginning with a nice empty stomach beer buzz – and I was really digging the team. I ran off quickly to help a small asian friend move her three giant bags down four flights of stairs before her flight to Toronto, and then I met back up with the boys for coffee at the Fairmont. Unexpectedly, they got right to it. Ben and Slaven pitched me an offer. I couldn’t refuse.

So now I’m working with the kick-ass Tapstream team, from home, whenever I want, meeting with the Head Noob every few days, and plotting my next adventures abroad. Yup, I can work while traveling. Victory.

Step 4: get hired by the dude who you called a noob – complete. Very nice! High Five!

I wonder what would happen if I shared my thoughts more often? I think I might give it a try. But the more important question here is:

What would happen if you started sharing your thoughts?

You never know, until you call someone a noob.

Copyright © Robin Campbell 2014