“Can I get 20 minutes of your time to tell you about the awesome things my startup is doing?”

I get this a lot. And the funny thing is, I’m not a journalist. I’m just an entrepreneur who can’t keep his mouth shut. I have no papers to sell.

Then it occurred to me that this is probably the same conundrum entrepreneurs have with startup journalists and, even though I’m not a journalist, I could probably tell you how to get their attention.

So here goes.

As it is, I’m not really interested in YOUR startup, so be advised that’s where you’re starting from. But I’m super interested in how your startup is changing the landscape, whether that’s the local landscape, the technical landscape, or the way startups get from zero to world domination.

I love startups. Just not yours.

At least, not the way you do. Or the way I love my own.

Anyway, it’s my love of startups that makes me inclined to sit and listen to cool stuff being proposed by someone smart and passionate enough to make that cool stuff happen. And I’ve been doing this too long to be fooled, so I also give really good advice.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want you to stop asking me to hear about your startup. There’s no better way for me to find out about you and — if you’re doing those world-changing things as described above — promote said awesome things. You have to stop me somewhere and tell me about it. Or shoot me an email. Or hit me up on the Twitter.

But I’m always kind of surprised when that “20 minutes” window comes up. I like a cup of coffee or a beer as much as the next guy, maybe a little more, but do you really want to spend that much time with me?

Can I get 20 minutes of your time to tell you about how I finally got my lawn into shape?

Come on. I thought not.

I’m just saying that the 20 minutes should probably be 20 seconds (more or less) and, even if you’re not aware that ExitEvent is entrepreneurally-grounded and we don’t publish the normal, blah-blah, startup stuff, you should know what would make me want to write something about your startup.

Because it’s the same thing that would make you read something about MY startup.

You probably like reading about startups. But I’ll tell you this, you probably wouldn’t care to hear me drone on about how awesome my startup is. I can do this, especially if you put coffee or beer in me, for hours.

In fact, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all the time I’ve spent around entrepreneurs promoting their startups, it’s this: People, in general, don’t care about how a startup is doing what they’re doing – that is – until they can relate that startup’s story to their own startup.

And since most people don’t have startups, most people don’t care about startups. It’s true. So they need to relate what they’re reading to themselves.

I’ve written these words in another context, but they apply here as well:

I don’t want to write about you, I want to write about me. And you don’t want to read about ME, you want to read about YOU. So as much as I can draw the connections between the universal us, I’ve got a chance at writing about you (me) in a context in which you’ll actually want to read about me (you).

And that, in a convoluted nutshell, is how you get press for your startup. Promote your startup as if it’s not yours, but a startup you’d like to read about. Communicate that story and you’ll find that more people are actually interested in what you have to say, because you’re no longer talking about you, you’re talking about me.

Hell, I’d read that.