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Most startups undervalue the power of a powerful press release and press kit. In the past, we’ve helped clients gain massive traction for their business through a few press release and company announcements.
One of the biggest questions that we get asked is, “How do we put together a killer press release kit that will get noticed?”
Truth is that there isn’t a “secret sauce.” Every company has different goals and you will need to craft your press release and kit based on the audience, market, and more.
Press releases have been the bread and butter of PR, almost since the dawn of the industry. Their use is so ubiquitous in the PR world as they’re a simple and concise medium to transmit an announcement to the press.
In this guide, we’ll cover all you need to know to put together a powerful press kit that works.
How to put together a press release
Let’s start off with the basics of how to put together a press release. It might sound simple, but there’s a lot to it!
A press release is an official announcement from a company providing information about a newsworthy announcement. The goal is to gain media coverage by sending the press release to journalists, bloggers, and influencers.
This can be a combination of a new funding round, new feature release, new branding etc. The goal of a press release is to be able to come up with a unique perspective to promote your company and gain brand awareness.
Let’s define some quick goals that you would want to set with launching a press release:
- Build brand awareness. A good techcrunch article can get your startup soaring.
- Backlinks – Although this isn’t always the case, it can be very powerful to have a backlink from a good site.
- Referral traffic – Media coverage generated from a good press release, especially when talking about a new product or service, can generate referral traffic.
- Build trust – Crucial for startups. Potential customers or investors need to have faith in your business, positive media coverage can really help with this.
Let’s talk about timing for a press release real quick since this is crucial.
The most common press release announcements include :
- Company launch, coming out of stealth
- New funding round
- Launching in a new area (Doordash launches in Florida etc.)
- Partnership annoucements
- Publishing research findings
- New major hire.
- Some award or Forbes feature
- Customer or user acquisition milestone
- Upcoming event or sponsorship campaign
Make sure you nail the timing right because one of the biggest mistakes startups make is that they tend to just launch a press release for the heck of it and this doesn’t help in the long run!
What’s your story?
You know what they say, a story is everything. The most powerful and successful brands will have a strong story behind it.
If you’re announcing the launch of your startup, then I’m afraid to say this fact alone is not newsworthy. You need to develop a hook – why this announcement matters to the people reading it.
The hook matters more than ever these days. In the past, you could come up with a random launch story, pitch it to a newspaper and launch it. That doesn’t work anymore especially with all the modern media outlets around.
The angle you take for your story will depend on what you’re announcing as well as the industry you’re in. Here are some common examples to include in your press release:
- Are you solving a problem? Is it clear what you are solving?
- What are similar solutions out there and how do you differ?
- Does it help you move towards a goal?
- Have you achieved something of value? Does this have wider benefits? Did you hit a new milestone?
- Does the story tell us something we didn’t already know or challenge current assumptions?
With that said, there are some other basic information that you should always include in a press release. It’s the bread and butter. It’s the classic who, what, when, where, why. These five points should be covered off in the opening paragraph. The rest of the press release should then be used to expand on these points.
Always write a press release in a third person. This is the industry standard as it allows press releases to be published “as-is”. You will still have the opportunity to provide a first-person statement when you insert a quote.
Ok, so another huge question is, how long should your press release be? Honestly, we’re a huge fan of long form content, but this doesn’t work well for a press release.
Avoid the long stuff and try and keep it to around a page of regular sized font and formatting (400 to 500 words). If you put together more than a page, you’ve probably written too much.
A journalist may only skim the document for 30 seconds, so make it like an elevator pitch with a little bit more details.
Structuring a press release
The exact structure of a press release is always determined by what you’re actually announcing. For example, a startup launch will differ from a new partnership.
I like to structure a press release simply with the following format:
Headline – The headline should be super straight forward and on point with the funding news.
Initial paragraph – Just like with all content, this is the hook and it should cover exactly what the news is about.
Second paragraph – This paragraph should go more into details about how the news can help the company or help solve a specific solution.
Third paragraph – The third paragraph should cover more about the company and its future goals. You can use this paragraph with more external sources, quotes from the founder and more to expand the news.
Contact details – Make sure you don’t forget to leave this one out! You always want to link back to your site with the appropriate contact details.
A press kit
It’s always a good idea to have a press kit handy, especially when pitching to journalist and reporters. They always want to see some sort of press kit and outline of the company including logos.
This isn’t a post about how to pitch to reporters, but it’s always smart to include a link to the company’s press kit in the email. This will help the reporter or journalist understand more about your company and will make their lives a lot easier.
When it comes to sending an email to a potential journalist there are a few outlets:
There are two main avenues when it comes to sending out a press release. Self-publishing it onto a newswire service, or sending it directly to journalists, bloggers and influencers:
- Self-publishing a press release onto a distribution service
There are both free and paid-for press release submission and distribution services you can use. Once you’ve published your press release onto these platforms, publications can either republish them “as is”, or journalists can pick them up and write them up as articles.
- Sending a press release directly to journalists, bloggers, and influencers
This takes slightly more effort but is often a more effective way of getting press coverage. It’s better to focus your attention on a smaller amount of journalists or bloggers that report on your industry, than less targeted pitches to more people. This is especially the case if you’re a startup.
Best time to send a press release?
Timing is key to success.
The new industry has changed dramatically over the last few years, but most journalists still work something similar to a Monday to Friday. A typical American schedule right?
So it’s best to send a press release out at the start of the week, either Monday or Tuesday morning.
Never send out a press release on a Friday or the day before a public holiday.
Also, avoid sending it just before the hour, send it a few minutes after, as publications that publish press releases “as is” will normally publish on the hour.
Don’t send it to multiple reporters at the same publication. This doesn’t increase your chances. In fact, it lowers them, as this is known to really annoy journalists. I’m huge of making personalizations on all email outreach.
If you haven’t heard anything after 3 or 4 days, then there’s no harm in sending a chaser. But take a common sense approach to this. Just send one chaser, and make it brief and friendly. Never hound a journalist, as you email will probably end up getting blocked. It’s always smart to follow up though!
Additional tips for the best press release
Yep, it’s not an easy concept. Content is king and having the right format, approach will make a huge difference. Here are some additional tips that you can take advantage of.
Start with your own channels:
- Tell your staff first. This is overlooked way too often, but your staff should be the first to know about any announcements. It’s great for morale and they’re fantastic brand ambassadors.
- Publish a blog post, but provide even more value than what was included in the press release. Include images, infographics, videos, and CTAs.
- Put the news out on your social channels. Include infographics or other multimedia.
- Tell your clients, partners or customers. If it’s a big announcement, send a personal email to each of your clients or partners, and include it in your next newsletter.
- Featured in a major publication? Shout about this so everyone can hear. Include the publication’s logo on your homepage, under a “featured in” banner, then talk about this in any outbound marketing such as upcoming newsletters.
Keep a list of the publications and journalists that featured your press release, so you know where to focus your efforts for future media pitches.
Hopefully you found this guide helpful and that you have nailed the basic process of putting together a good press release. If you need help with putting together a press release in proper format without running into errors, feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll put together one for you!
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