Founder and CEO of Squirrly UK. Seasoned Entrepreneur, Growth Hacker, Advisor to a few startups and Professional Blogger at Adevarul Media Holding. Co-Organizes Open Connect Cluj and Antreprenori Cluj.
Clarity (http://www.clarity.fm) is an amazing service that allows anyone to buy expert consulting, conducted over the phone, and you only have to buy a few minutes at a time. This means that consulting is now accessible to anyone with any budget, but it also means more than that. Think like a growth hacker. You are able to buy the time of influential business people. Do you see the hack yet? We're not using Clarity for consulting. We're going to use it for business development.
Search the Clarity.fm catalog for individuals who cannot only give you advice on your startup, but also people that could assist you in deeper ways. Maybe you can find people that work at companies which would be an ideal partnership for you. Maybe you can find someone who can cut a deal with you for his company's services. Maybe you can find someone who can grant you access to certain events in your industry. There are a million ways that you can benefit from consultants when you start thinking broader than just consulting.
Now that you have a short list of people that could propel your business forward, by doing more than just consulting, then go ahead and buy 30 minutes of their time, and setup calls with all of them. There is a reason we call this hack the Clarity Prison. Once you book their time and pay for it, then they can't exactly hang up on you. You now have a captive audience with an influential entrepreneur who can aide you.
Other people approach Clarity with a series of questions that they want answered. You are going to approach it will a deal that you want to close. Start the call doing the typical consulting stuff. Ask questions, nod your head, have some dialogue, but you are actually there to close a deal. Know what you are there to accomplish and nudge the conversation in that direction. This is where boldness comes in!
Here is how we used this hack at Growth Hacker TV. When we first started we knew it would be difficult to get A-level growth experts to come on the show, so we found the guests we wanted on Clarity and we paid for their consulting. Once we were on the phone with them we closed them on the idea of being one of our first guest. Talking on the phone gave them the ability to see that we were smart people building a real business and that their time on the show wouldn't be wasted. This is how we booked Andrei Marinescu (from Hulu) and Dan Martell (founder of Clarity).
Once we had a couple big names under our belt then we could name drop them in emails to other guests and the phone contact wasn't necessary. So, how are you going to use the Clarity Prison?
Google your top 3-5 competitors and create a spreadsheet of the top 10-20 sites they are featured in.
In your spreadsheet, include the name of the blogs, their URLs, the person who wrote the post, and also make a note of how many of your competitors they covered. If it's more than 2, that writer is probably specifically covering your niche/industry.
Check out Alexa, Quantcast, GPR, etc. for these people, as well as soft metrics (like the ones whose articles kick ass and who are offering a lot of value to your industry).
Get to know them on twitter for a few months, providing helpful information or retweeting their articles (or commenting on them), BEFORE you need anything from them. That means that you're sending them information that has nothing to do with your startup. Also make sure to read all of their articles, so you have a better idea of what they like or don't like to write about, and any other nuances.
Once you decide you want to talk to them, instead of sending a press release, try sending a short note (3-5 sentences), making sure to explain what's in it for them and why you are relevant.
If you MUST send a press release, include a personalized 3-5 sentence note in your email.
TechCrunch may not be the be all and end all for your startup. Other options that may get more traction include local tech blogs, blogs specific to the industry you're in, etc., even if you're just using them as a starting point to begin building up your media presence.
Make sure your bio, pics, etc. are media friendly.