Communication Tips To Startups [Stop Sending Copy/Paste Emails]

In Entrepreneurship by Ashish Sinha8 Comments

Startups often stay in the state of ‘I am changing the world’ and while this is surely the right passion to have, it’s very important that they rub on the same passion while communicating with others.

At Pi, we receive almost 25-35 emails daily from startup founders/companies (including email from wannabes/excluding press releases from biggies) and here is how I categorize these emails

#1. I don’t give a shit [BCC]

Typically BCCed, and starts like this

Hi there

We just wanted to send across our newly launched startup<>com and request you to publish the press release in your site.

On an average day, such emails do not get attention for more than 20 seconds. If you don’t give a damn to others and don’t care about whom you are approaching, the channel basically doesn’t mean much to you. And the feeling is mutual.


#2. Copy/Paste

An improved version from point 1.

Typically, individuals and companies have to send multiple emails to bloggers/media companies and they end up copy/pasting the email without making the appropriate changes (they have a template where name/company names are changed).


What surprises me is the lack of awareness of email marketing software/services which does give you the mechanism to send ‘personalized email in a very impersonal way’.

In such cases, I typically reply back asking the sender if this was sent to us by mistake?

#3. Where is the context?

“Would you like to review <X>? We launched couple of days back and have been covered by <abc>, <crap>.com media sites.

Why don’t you tell me the product features/usage/problem you are solving, instead of sending a press release? In some of the cases, the sender doesn’t know too many details of the product (happens with marketing intern), but as a startup you need to share the ‘basic information’ across all hires.

Similarly, there are emails whether its not clear whether the founder wants a feedback/bounce off ideas or wants a coverage on Pi?

Setting context helps, as one allocates time/resource based on the context. And don’t feel shy to say ‘I want coverage for the new feature launch’. Marketing is your birthright and you better do it.

#4. I want <> [Hurry]

Sometimes founders are in a hurry to get a feedback/review without setting the right relationship in place. Though I don’t care so much about the relationship part, but its human to reply to somebody whom you know (after all, review takes a certain amount of time) than a complete stranger (who doesn’t even care to introduce him/herself).

No harm in sending such emails, but great entrepreneurs often build relationships before they start reaping benefits of these relationships.

So what works?

There is no formula here, but given that the other person reading your email is also human, its important to understand the context a little bit. Relationship building always helps (some of the startups with whom I connected 3 years back simply call up (without any prior notice) and share the company update, i.e. no formal process).

Most importantly, a company’s external communication needs to have a defined baseline, process and the time to define that is now (waiting till funding doesn’t help!).

Of course, I am not suggesting that you need to suck up to get profiled (we are equally guilty of not replying to genuine emails), but the important part to note is that we are still not in the decade where bots community, publish and read. The communication still involves human beings.

What’s your opinion?

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  1. Pramod

    Great post Ashish and humorous examples!

    Another situation where this applies is templates used for word of mouth marketing (through email). Startups folks send out mails to their contact list – often their close friends to spread a word or two about the startup in their office etc. And in a hurry to get things done, one sends out a standardized email to their friends – which is a bit of a turn-off and ineffective.

    It is important to treat friends as friends and not as a marketing medium. A personal mail to say 30-40 friends will take time but worth the investment! They understand where you are coming from and will be ready to help.


  2. Shashank

    I totally agree with you Ashish. I have faced similar issues on my blog. Either the product is unfinished or the owners don’t tend to care to whom they are sending the mails.
    I like mails that tell a story about a product or an application. A small writeup explaining the benefits and target audience does help a lot.
    Also, I am not a big fan of press releases. They are too formal and boring. My ideal mail would contain,

    1. Introduction to the product.
    2. People behind it.
    3. What the product intends to do and the target audience.
    4. Additonal references about the product.
    5. Previous write-ups on other sites(if any)

  3. Rahul Sharma

    Hi Ashish, I am surprised that you wrote this article. I have mailed you multiple times to request you to do what you had promised in one of your mails. We got selected for unpluggd for first round and in your mail you had promised that you would be giving coverage to ones who did not make it to the final round. But till now, I have not seen any coverage for us even after multiple reminders. I sincerely suggest you to give more than 20 seconds to emails which could have genuine requests/reminders/content. Still waiting for Coverage

  4. Vijay

    An insightful coverage is worth a wait ! If you can’t better run for PR agencies

  5. Raxit

    Writing one line of e-mail is more than enough to start conversation. In next 2-3 reply, you can shoot press release.

    Blakmailing like “We loved to be on” was worked :)

  6. Abdul

    Yeah,Good Insights of PR people,I think I should be careful in future as we all need each others help to propel the cause of Entrepreneurship

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