PR For Startups: The Art of the Press Release in 7 Steps
Good (positive) PR hits 2 major influence factors, social proof and authority, and even bad (negative) PR will drive a bump in traffic and attention. How you capture and convert is up to you, but the first step? GET INTERNET FAMOUS.
Last note: have you ever tried to do PR for yourself or your company? It IS kind of scary, those journalists DO bite. As my friend Eric Eldon (former editor in chief at Techcrunch) used to say, “Never pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrel.”
Today’s post breaks it down so you can avoid those reputation-tarnishing mistakes.
So you have a startup and it’s high time everyone else knew about it, right?
Maybe you have a new product, or a re-launch or some other event that is going to put your company on the map. But what is the goal of PR? And how can you channel your efforts into reaching that goal? Let’s see if we can’t answer these all important questions.
The goal of PR
Most people know what PR – aka, public relations – is.
Jokes aside, communicating you and your company’s message is an important part of expanding any business or startup and, nowadays, many businesses know that they need at least some PR function.
But, ultimately, the goal of PR is to own a space, to colonise an industry and make you or your company the go-to for comment and direction.
Of course, the immediate goal of PR is to generate press coverage, but by doing this effectively, you can ensure your business is mentioned in future articles even when you haven’t made an announcement; that is what owning a space is all about (i.e: how Dave Mcclure owns mind-share — and search results — when people think of accelerators and investments).
It sounds hard but luckily, there are a number of ways to a this.
Two of the most effectives are:
1. Use guest articles – written by either a business leader or ghost written on their behalf – to build that person as an authority figure in their industry
2. Use press releases to inform journalists and news sites of new changes and events that are happening within your company. This article focuses on how to best craft, pitch and use a press release to gain meaningful coverage.
How to generate press coverage with press releases
So, as discussed, one of the best ways to generate press attention is by using a press release, which informs journalists and editors of the announcement you or your company is making.
To the uninitiated, or those who aren’t comfortable writing, this may seem like a daunting task. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Creating a press release and then pitching it to journalists can be broken down into just a few simple steps. Remember, if you aren’t confident in your literary skills, have a grammar-obsessed friend – we all know at least one – read over it, too.
In the next section, I’ll go over the 7 steps to crafting a killer press release that won’t get ignored.
1. WHAT IS YOUR STORY?
Contrary to popular belief, the media is not a minefield and (most) journalists are not scary.
Many are just humble writers looking for the most interesting new story they can find. The key word in all of this is ‘new’. No self-respecting media outlet is going to touch yesterday’s story, unless you can offer them something, well, new.
To make sure your news is in fact newsworthy, you need to work out what announcement you are making. Company and product launches are often the most eye-catching, in addition to take-overs (the more aggressive/expensive the better) and funding announcements. However this list is not a ranking. Anything has the potential to be newsworthy if you get the timing right. Below is an example of TechCrunch covering a Version 1.0 launch.
CRAFTING YOUR PRESS RELEASE
The press release and the email pitch are the most important elements of generating media attention. Communicating an announcement poorly is the most efficient way of making sure no one hears about it, ever.
Press releases should be about a page long and they must not leave factual holes.
Good releases should follow a format similar to the COPYABLE TEMPLATE below:
The title: A headline for your release, essentially in the format of: “Something/someone does/experiences/announces something new”.
First Paragraph: Discuss the larger mission of the new announcement, i.e. what it does and what it is for. Include a date and location at the very beginning.