On average, each day a journalist gets by e-mail from several to over hundred different press releases. Most of them are thrown into the bin. Only selected ones will be presented to the editorial board as potential material for publication. One or two of them will be published. So how should you effectively promote a start-up in the media?
At the beginning, answer a simple question: in which media would I want to have information about my start-up published?
Create a simple list of media in a spreadsheet, which will contain initially several names of the editors. Each of the media should be assigned a specific leading format: portal, blog, daily, weekly, monthly, radio, tv. Also identify the leading topics on which a given medium publishes materials (e.g. news, business, finance, lifestyle, new technologies, start-up, society). This will be useful later when filtering it will be necessary.
A good press release is one that goes to a strictly specified journalist. Most press releases are sent out en masse at random. It is for this reason that the journalists who receive it are not interested in them. To achieve success, you must act like a sniper, not like an artilleryman.
Visit the website of each of the media you have on your list and identify by name a journalist who has published material in the past on a topic close to what your company does. It is not always so obvious. In the case of technology portals, look for a journalist who wrote about a technology similar to your technology or about competitors. In the case of a medium with a general profile, you should simply identify a journalist who is familiar with new technologies or small business.
There is also nothing wrong with your list including several journalists from the same medium: for example, one writing about new technologies and the other about business novelties.
This is a difficult task, but without it is impossible to do PR for a startup. Some editorial offices have an “open door policy” in this regard, publishing the contact details of their journalists under their articles. Most often, however, finding them will require you to search the “editorial” and “contact” tabs and editorial footers.
You need an e-mail and an editorial phone number for each of the journalists on your list. The e-mail address usually has the same scheme as the e-mail address of all journalists in the editorial office, so its determination should not be a particular problem. The most effective method of determining a direct phone call to a journalist is… phone to the editorial office.
It’s time to prepare a press release. Remember that the average “Smith” is not interested in your company, product or service. However, probably they would like to know how it could change their life. When writing a press release, do not focus on the functionalities of your product and the details of the service, which the majority of people will not understand. Instead, write a press release about a problem or a need that is behind the solutions introduced by your company.
Remember that the same context will not be equally interesting for all media. If you have included business journalists on your list, the press release should address the needs of the business market in an accessible way. If your list is wider and includes media representatives of different profiles, the best solution will be… preparation of several versions of the press release in different contexts.
The main purpose of the press release is to present the most important facts. However, this does not mean that you have to throw in all, even the smallest details! A good press release gives the journalist the opportunity to get acquainted with it in a quick and easy way. So try to make the content close in one and a half pages of standardized text.
Divide your information into paragraphs. The first should answer the most important questions of the journalist: who? what? where? when? why? The next second and third paragraphs are only a complement to the key topic.
Each press release should also have a title and lead, i.e. a short summary of 2-3 sentences. A good title and lead make it impossible to resist the temptation to read the whole text. Remember to keep them short and drastically specific. Avoid adjectives and unnecessary ornaments to which journalists are particularly “allergic”. The title of the information should refer to the facts and not be too “poetic”.
At the end of the press release, it is mandatory to add your contact details, allowing journalists to contact you.
Most press releases are never even opened. The blame for this, in the vast majority, lies with poorly prepared e-mails and poorly selected communication context.
Remember not to post the entire content of the press release into your e-mail. After opening a news, a journalist should be able to quickly get an idea of what the press release is about and what it changes in the lives of his readers. It is a good idea, in two or three sentences, to paraphrase the lead of the press release.
Make sure that the content of the email clearly communicates the problem/need to which your company responds. The same principle applies to the title of the e-mail. It should be short and clearly communicate what the press release is about. It is also worth indicating in the title that the e-mail is a press release.
Also, try to personalize your email. A journalist should know immediately that you are contacting him not by accident. If you have previously found his articles that correspond to your information, it is worth referring to them by placing links to them in the body of the e-mail.
Opt out of group mailing or distribution via tools that automate the sending of newsletters. Beautiful emails in html work well when you communicate with your customers. For journalists, however, it is an infallible sign that the same press release has just been received by several or several hundred other people. And this effectively cools the enthusiasm to deal with the topic.
Send each email separately, from your own mailbox. Make sure you don’t confuse the names and don’t inadvertently leave the “Fwd” tag in the email title.
After sending press releases to journalists, contact each of them by phone to discuss the possibility of obtaining a publication. You will learn that the journalist has not yet had the opportunity to read your press release and you will arrange an meeting at a time convenient for both sides. Sometimes they will ask you to send it again.
Once you start talking about the information itself, try to find out if the topic of information interests them. If not, perhaps another context would be more interesting to them? Or maybe they are interested in another form of publication, such as an interview?
Be flexible and listen to what the other side is saying. Direct feedback from a journalist is invaluable. It will allow you to get to know what they need, and thus prepare better press releases, responding to the specific needs of media representatives.
If a journalist is interested in publishing, ask him when it has a chance to appear and whether he needs additional photos, short quotes from the founders or figures.
By regularly distributing press releases, you will quickly realize that when doing PR for a startup, you are contacting a group of several key journalists and bloggers. That is why it is so important not to treat the distribution of a press release as a “one-time shot” to anonymous people, but as the first or next opportunity to talk to specific media representatives.
Consistently built relationships with journalists over time evolve into lasting acquaintances that result in mutual benefits: the journalist receives first-hand interesting information, and you get the opportunity to regularly appear in the media, even in the form of comments on current events.