The first press release was in 1906 and involved some pretty solid crisis management about a major train crash that killed more than 50 people. Since then, startups have sent approximately 18.3 billion releases, the vast majority of which were received by reporters who didn’t care about what was being announced.
But for all of their shortcomings, press releases still have a role to play in a startup’s communications strategy. What’s important is to know why and when to use them, and, more important, how to get the most out of them. Below is our advice.
Make it clear why your news matters
You know in your heart that your startup’s big news is important, but that doesn’t mean the reporter will. It’s critical to establish relevance right out of the gate. Instead of simply stating the news in the first sentence, we often start press releases with a sentence or two to establish context. This basically says: “Here’s the problem, and we’re introducing the solution.”
Add outside voices
Just because it’s your press release doesn’t mean it has to only have your voice. In fact, if you’re an unknown or little-known startup, your press release becomes much more credible if you include a third party.
Who might that be? Consider a customer who’s already using the new service you’re announcing or an influencer who can share why this is such a big deal.
Don’t let it be the first time a reporter hears from you
Hopefully you’ve read our DIY PR piece and have already been building relationships with reporters who cover startups and products or services like yours. Relationships can help your press release get a few minutes of consideration in a reporter’s busy day, and can also help push a possible “no” or borderline “maybe” into a solid “yes.”
Be smart about using a news distribution service
Services like PR Newswire, Businesswire, and GlobeNewswire have their place (if you must, use GlobeNewswire), but it’s important to understand the reality of what they offer.