How to build rapport with influencers and reporters

I’m living proof that the saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know,” is 110% accurate.

To think that I’ve been able to build a multiple six figure business by interviewing my heroes in the app space is astonishing.

I pitch myself every day that I am where I’m at because of my podcast guests, my audience and my mastermind.

I tell you this because I know a thing or two about reaching out to influencers and reporters.

We’ve been able to land press on Techcrunch, get featured by Apple, have amazing connections using the tactics I’m about to lay out for you.

A bit of advice for you, pick just a few of these strategies and reach out to someone today. Don’t think just do.

Let’s rock…

Here are 7 of my best strategies to reach out to reporters, influencers or anyone else for that matter completely cold.

1. Interview them

Remember my story from the intro? It’s way easier to connect with someone successful if you ask them for an interview rather than coffee.

Successful people want to reach the masses not just share their knowledge with one person.

And guess what? You can ask them questions that you have problems with (I do that all the time).

And the best part? You can grow a business interviewing others.

Not only has my audience hired me for app marketing help, but I’ve had past guests hire me as well.

These are guests that have been featured by Apple and run hugely successful app companies.

Here’s my caution for you…

Many people think of my podcast as “content marketing”. I say hell no! I’m frankly offended by the comment.

I approach each and every single interview with the intent to pull out the very best information for me and my audience. If it was purely for “content marketing” then I would stick to the fluff like most other podcasts, but I get down and dirty with the content so actionable information can be pulled from it.

My philosophy on the interviews are to make sure:

  • My guest looks good and teaches us something that they know best.
  • My audience gets actionable information from each episode.
  • Build a lasting connection with each guest.

The last one is very important. I spend a lot of time studying how to build rapport and how to build lasting relationships. But all that boils down to is what Gary Vaynerchuk states as “putting 51% into every relationship.” It’s that simple.

2. Follow on Instagram

I’ve used this Instagram strategy to get a moderator at Product Hunt to submit an app and make an Apple contact.

I interviewed Martin Bryant, former editor at The Next Web, on the podcast and he gave me an example of a bad email pitch. The entrepreneur led with “I hope you’re over your cold that I saw on Twitter.”

This caught me off guard.

I thought you were supposed to personalize a pitch and show that you did a little bit of research. However, Martin said that Twitter is too easy, everyone does that.

So…

I told him of a story where I pitched a reporter at Lifehacker by sifting through his Instagram feed. Here was my pitch to him:

Subject: {first name}, saw your crazy rattle snake on IG

Body:
Hey {first name}, saw the rattle snake pic on Instagram. Dead or alive I would never get that close to that rattle snake. =)

As a cyclist, I wanted to get your thoughts on my latest update to {app name}.

{app’s main benefit}

Here are 3 reasons LifeHackers will love the latest update to {app name}:

– New feature 1
– New feature 2
– New feature 3

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/
Website: http://appwebsite.com/

If you think it’s worthy of a post on LifeHacker, I would be greatly appreciative.

If not, really appreciate your work and keep rocking that alchemy bike. =)

P.S. Here’s a quick screenshot of {app name}.

I love building rapport on Instagram because most people don’t have as many followers as they do on Twitter.

Also, most people share more intimate photos that highlight their life and personality.

My strategy is to sort through some of the older photos and not select one of their most recent ones. I also try to find one that I can relate to.

Lastly, don’t think of this strategy as just applying to Instagram. This could easily apply to Snapchat, Anchor, or any other new social network in the future.

3. Send a physical thank you card

Go “old school” and send a physical thank you card. So much of our lives is digital that we now find it really nice to receive a physical thank you card. It shows the other party that we actually spent time nurturing the relationship.

If you want to go one step further, send a gift card along with the thank you card. I’ve sent many thank you cards with gift cards to past guests, reporters, past clients, etc.

4. Pitch them something NOT related to you

This was a strategy that Techcrunch reporter, Steve O’Hear, gave me on his podcast interview. If you want to build a relationship with a reporter, pitch him something that isn’t related to you at all, but would make a great story.

These examples include cool apps that haven’t been written about, founder disputes, failing companies, acquisitions, etc.

Steve said that he just needs a little scoop so that he can investigate further. By the way, I love hearing that a reporter actually wants to investigate.

Don’t always make it about you when building relationships. Think about how you can help the other party.

5. Show your results from their course

Everyone is looking for testimonials, so if you can show an influencer that his course actually produced results for you then it’s a win-win situation.

The influencer can potentially get a testimonial from you and you show the influencer that you are a go-getter.

This is the exact strategy that I used to connect with Andrew Warner of Mixergy. I was already paying for Mixergy Premium and took a Black Hat SEO course.

I immediately executed on the course and cold emailed Andrew with the subject line “What I really think of your Black Hat SEO course…”. In the email, I told Andrew that the course was amazing and I was already ranking #3 for my target keyword using the strategies in the course.

This simple email has led to me co-teaching a course on Mixergy, my boss at the time being interviewed by Andrew, and invites to scotch and poker with Andrew.

6. Pay for lunch

Okay by far this is my favorite strategy. This was a strategy that I heard from Jason Calacanis. He said that he regularly has lunch with startups that he invests in and entrepreneurs who want to pick his brain.

Why? He has to eat, so why not make it productive.

This simple strategy has changed everything for me.

As someone who somewhat regularly gets asked to have coffee or lunch with others, I always pay for lunch. The one stipulation is that you have to come to me.

There’s something about eating with someone (and hopefully drinking too) that builds a deeper connection than just having coffee.

I also took it a step further and regularly host dinners with app entrepreneurs. I’ve built many great relationships at these dinners including my App Masters Connect business partner, Alex Dantas, whom at first met at the dinner.

7. Consistency

I added this last one in after reading The 10X Rule. The author, Grant Cardone, talks about thinking 10X bigger and putting in 10X the effort.

You see it’s not always the best salesperson that gets the deal, it’s the one that is the most consistent.

Now there’s a fair balance between consistency and annoyance so be sure to include in your email that “you’ll stop emailing the person if he wants” however it’s better to be consistent in your efforts to show that you really want this deal or relationship.

I know that I wouldn’t have the connections with reporters that I do unless I kept pitching them. And when they finally liked a client of mine, I made sure they had everything they needed and treated them like I wanted to further the relationship. I sent a thank you email, a thank you card, shared the article with a mention to them on Twitter, and more.

Conclusion

I’m living proof that “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. And crazy enough who you know affects what you know.

I know much more about the app space because of who I know than I ever have in the 2 years before I started the podcast. Everything I have in life and business has been about relationships, so use these 7 tips above and start building more relationships.

Steve Young

Founder at AppMasters
I started building apps in 2011 and my first app hit #8 under educational games. I started making a few hundred dollars a month, but had no idea what I was doing. Then in 2013 I decided to start a podcast so I could pick the brains of app creators that I admired including the co-founder of Shazam, Tapbots, Crossy Road, etc and that changed everything.

Now I run an app marketing agency where we’ve helped 28 clients get featured by Apple, 5X downloads with ASO, and get coverage on Techcrunch, Mashable, Venture Beat and other major publications. I also write about apps on The Next Web, Entrepreneur.com, and on my blog AppMasters.co.