A press release is a staple to any startup’s public relations campaign. Readily available on your press page should be a list of your official company announcements in the format of a press release. You have a press page, right? Well, one thing at a time- let’s focus on press releases for now.
These documents are your passport to the press. Sure you still need to launch a targeted ongoing PR campaign, but without a press release your journey into the headlines will be hampered by increased scrutiny and skepticism. The press favors companies that produce and distribute press releases.
The Crux Of A Press Release
- Define a clear goal. Your goal will dictate the rest of your press release be it increasing sales, driving website traffic, strengthening brand awareness, informing your audience of an important company announcement, etc. Pick the goal most relevant to you. To save time I’ll make this one easy. Your goal is increased sales. Your goal is always increased sales. A sale can be simply gaining people’s attention, but you’re always selling people something. Everything else is secondary goals that help with that goal. As a first step write a full list of goals down.
- Define a clear target audience. Do you want to reach businesses or consumers? What demographics and locations are you targeting? The clearer your user profile the easier it is to reach them.
- Describe your announcement including every relevant detail (e.g., who, what, when, where, why, and how). The success of your entire public relations campaign hinges on how newsworthy your story is. You can do everything right but if your core story isn’t interesting to a broader audience it will be very challenging to find placements. Take the time to make sure you have a story that belongs in the publications you plan on pitching.
- Select a title and subtitle. This is how a reporter determines if your annoucement is of interest to them. They should summarize your entire press release.
- Describe how this announcement affects your industry and clients or customers.
- Define a call to action. What do you want clients or potential clients to do when they hear your announcement?
- Include one or two quotes from company representatives on the announcements. Include their name and title/role. Interesting side note, it’s not uncommon for marketing and PR reps to invent quotes for busy executives in press releases. The turnaround time for news announcements sometimes eclipses the ability to get a real quote from top brass and it’s their job to manage public opinion anyway.
- Choose the date and time you’d like the press release to be distributed. To get a slight edge and avoid the hourly rush release it at an atypical time, such as 9:12AM. If this is breaking news you should pitch journalists beforehand and give them the opportunity to be the first to cover it.
The Fundamental Components
- Company contact details. Company Name and full contact details of company including email address and/or phone.
- Media Representative contact details. Name, title, and contact details including email address and/or phone.
- Your elevator pitch. Include a 2-4 sentence description of your business.
- Include links to your home page and/or a relevant landing page.
- Include any keywords you’re targeting. Although the SEO benefits of putting press releases on the wire are in doubt, writers are likely to pull similar language and wording from them.
- Include company letterhead or logos. Also include any pictures.
- Include an End of Content marker. Tie up your press release with a center aligned “###”.
- Choose the distribution service you’d like to use- PR Newswire, Newswire, PRWeb, and BusinessWire are popular options. If you’re not a well connected known company it’s not going to get you placements though. It creates some form of buzz if someone’s searching for your company by name, and also helps demonstrate you have money to invest. But if getting placements is your goal then post your press releases to your press page or blog and focus your attentions to pitching reporters directly. Save wire services for major announcements, if you use them at all. This article cover photo represents our view of distribution services.
Now that you’ve gathered all the key information put it together in a well written press release ready for a hungry trove of reporters. Here’s three press release templates from PR Newswire.
Once published, head on over to our Public Relations and Media Relations Guide. The press release is the start to your journey into landing placements in the news.