Subject Lines and Twitter Intros: How Startups Can Build Relationships with the Media


I was asked to moderate a panel at Blueprint’s 500 Startups Day event on how startups can engage the media to cover news about their startups – and there were some interesting discoveries made that I want to share here:

Build relationships BEFORE you want coverage

Raymond Yip of Shopline was on the panel and even though he has very newsworthy news about Shopline’s funding he still started relationships with the key media he wanted to target far before he started any press release writing. He also mentioned being available by email and phone 24/7 for any follow-up questions taking into account a reporters tight deadlines.

Use Twitter

In the immortal words of TechInAsia journalist Paul Bischoff “F*ck LinkedIn!”

Twitter is the way to go when approaching journalists. I personally love Twitter – even in Hong Kong where usage is low – but the world uses this to engage strangers, if you’re a startup in Hong Kong and not on Twitter get on it now and tweet me (@casey_lau) and I will follow you back immediately – and then go follow the journalists on my panel and introduce yourself:

  • Paul Bischoff (@pabischoff) from @TechInAsia
  • Iris Leung (@irismtleung) from @e27co
  • James Griffiths (@jgriffiths) from @SCMP
  • and if you’re reading this and not following @StartupsHK – then, you’re welcome!

Subject Lines

That subject line is the make or break for you so think wisely how you word it. Send a few to yourself and see how it looks. Add in numbers like investment size, user base, number of monkeys you employ – this gets your email opened and then you have the first paragraph to lock and load.


This is a fair way to make sure all media get a fair shot at reporting the news at the same time so no one feels left out unless you want to give one agency an exclusive, its best to embargo the story so it all goes out at once and everyone has the basic story and they can do follow-up pieces if they want.

50 Emails a Day

these journalists get a ton of emails a day, so don’t send email to them in the morning when they are scanning a mix of work and spam emails. A good time to get them in mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Also make sure it is DAMN EASY to find your email – if you hide it because you don’t want to get spammed by robots, unhide it when you start your PR blitz – there are reporters that want to follow-up with you and if you’re hard to find guess where your story goes?

Founders Talk, PR Walks

It was unanimous that all the journalists want to talk to founders and not to a PR firm as its one more layer in getting to you to get the story. Boom, you just saved HK$30K a month from reading this post!

This panel has given me an idea…

to host a monthly media night where the media can come and see a show-and-tell of the latest and greatest startups that want to show off what they are doing. Remember a journalist/reporters job is to find the news and report on it, so they are looking for you. If you think this is a good idea drop a comment below and if I see enough interest we’ll try it out soon and invite some other international media based in HK.

Hey look, embedded tweets from yesterday:

Casey Lau (@casey_lau) is the co-founder of StartupsHK – see his profile on

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  1. A monthly media night is such a great idea and a win-win for everyone involved!

  2. Having a relevant Twitter stream is essential for English-speaking media. Thanks for the informative panel & writeup, Casey!

  3. Media night would be a great idea.

  4. F.A.B idea. I would absolutely love to come and pitch HiddenTruffles to media and other experts :)
    Pl add my email id.