From being a nobody to WSJ star

I was listening to an interview with the WSJ personal tech columnist when she unknowingly dropped a delicious morsel of media relations goodness.

Widely recognized as one of the most powerful influencers in tech, Joanna Stern was being asked about her mega-popular Vision Pro review video, which has more than 3 million views on YouTube alone.

One of its viral moments showcased her genuine enthusiasm for a cooking app.

What’s weird about this is the Vision Pro gives a warning – “It’s not recommended to prepare food while wearing the Apple Vision Pro.” And Joanna noted that nothing in Apple’s marketing talks about cooking as a use case.

So how in the world did she end up highlighting a cooking app?!?!

Joanna explained that her team was brainstorming activities that could be interesting to try while wearing the device (here’s the interview, paywall).

“I had gotten an email from a developer, Devin. I’ve been getting a lot of . . . pitches about Vision Pro apps,” Joanna said. “And I sort of skimmed it and I said, ‘Oh, it’s a cooking app,’ and I decided to just put it down on the list.”

On the day of the shoot they worked through other use cases and then she decided, “Let’s just try the cooking app.”

So what magic did this Devin-sorcerer wield to score this huge exposure? He sent a cold email!

Turns out Devin Davies is a solo developer in New Zealand whose entire marketing platform appears to be his X account with all of 4,800 followers. I’m not making this up: his handle is @JustMeDevin

Moment of silence for the literally hundreds of people reading this who have pitched Joanna Stern on behalf of big brands and never gotten a response. I’m sorry to bring this up for you.

Sometimes, when considering top-tier media, we overanalyze and psyche ourselves out and don’t even try.

This Devin guy could have thought, “This launch is gonna be so huge, all the big companies with huge budgets will be flooding the top-tier folks with pitches, I should just focus on my local or niche media.”

But instead, he aimed high and went for it. So when Joanna Stern was looking for unique angles for her review, HIS little ol’ cooking app was the only one in her inbox.

Is this strategy reliable enough to bank on it for every launch? No way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try.

Devin’s story reminds me of another underdog placement, when a just-out-of-college PR pro defied his boss’s directions and pitched a tech startup to the legendary Walt Mossberg.

That young PR pro’s name was also Devin (Knighton). You can listen to THAT Devin describe what happened next staring at 2:40 in my interview with him (free).

When you’ve got something relevant, and you’ve targeted it properly, take a chance and email the WSJ personal technology columnist. It just might pay off.

Even if your name isn’t Devin.

This article was originally published on March 7, 2024

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