Engadget Editor In Chief Tim Stevens speaks at Startup America Stage CES 2013 (photo nibletz.com)
Some of the top tech elite dropped by the Startup America Live stage at Eureka Park on Wednesday to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas Convention Center expo floor and talk to young companies, entrepreneurs and startups about what it takes to get coverage for CES and in general.
The panel was moderated by Frank Gruber, founder and CEO of TechCocktail, creator of DC Week and AOL alum. Joining him as panelists were Tim Stevens the current Editor in Chief at Engadget, Kelly Grant with Market Watch and Smart Money at the Wall Street Journal, and Jason Gilbert from the Huffington Post. All three gave very candid insights into what they are looking for and how to get them to read your pitch and visit your booth.
While nibletz dwarfs any of those sites in comparison, we still get 75 pitches a week on a regular week and during CES it swells to 125-150 per day. It’s hard for our staff to weed through pitches, imagine what it’s like for these guys. Well after today you don’t need to imagine.
Gruber started off the panel by asking the panelists what trends caught their eye at CES this year. Stevens said that he was happy to see a lot of the products that got their starts on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo exhibiting at CES. Gilbert agreed with Stevens pointing out that there seemed to be a backlash this year at CES against the “big” manufacturers and “super mega booths”.
Grant loved seeing health and fitness trackers but also said there were too many of them and she’s still looking for the ultimate one.
In talking about CES specifically, Gruber wanted to know what it took to get an email read. HuffPo’s Gilbert said that you have the subject line and the Gmail preview to sell him on a pitch, otherwise it’s probably headed to the trash. Stevens said that he was fortunate to have a team helping him find the diamonds in the rough.
For Grant, like us, its all about timing. You have a better chance at getting your CES related email read a few months earlier so she can put your booth on her calendar. Sending her emails during the show is useless as she (like many of us) don’t even bother reading emails until the end of the night. Like many journalists Grant works off a private email address for her colleagues to actually produce and edit material.
ltoR: Frank Gruber (TechCocktail), Tim Stevens (Engadget), Kelly Grant (WSJ), Jason Gilbert (Huffington Post) photo: nibletz LLC
Presentation and Product are Key
Another theme that all three journalists seemed to agree on is that presentation and product are key. We all know that for a startup a booth at CES can be an expensive thing, but you have to show that you care at least about your product. Speaking of products, Stevens said if you don’t have a product unfortunately Engadget probably won’t cover you. On that, Stevens added that if your product is on the market, going and selling, for more than two weeks it’s too late for Engadget, he likes to be on the cutting edge.
PR People and Press Releases
In a lot of “media” panels PR people get a bad rep. This particular panel didn’t do any PR bashing however they all agreed that your PR team needs to know your pitch word for word and the technology that backs your pitch. As a founder of a startup you don’t want to be at CES or any show for that matter, leave your booth to go to the bathroom and then have a PR person tell a journalist, “I’ll have to ask so and so” and make them wait. Journalists won’t wait.
Stevens and Gilbert both talked about how important exclusives were to them. Stevens said that a product they might not put a priority on would quickly move up the ladder if they got it first.
This panel was part of the Startup America Live stage at Eureka Park at CES 2013