Ultimate Startup Press Release Guide (With Real Examples) | Publicize

If you want to listen to the audio version of ULTIMATE STARTUP PRESS RELEASE GUIDE, press play here.

Whether you work for a startup, a multinational, or simply for yourself, press releases are a fundamental aspect of any media strategy. That’s why we’ve put this guide together, to walk you through the following:

  • Free press release template Word doc
  • Everything you need to know about writing a press release
  • 10 real-world press release examples, including press releases for startups, tech and company launch announcements, product launch press release and more
  • The best tips of the trade on how to write a press release pitch letter 
  • How to build on the momentum that’s generated from press coverage

So without further ado, here’s what we’ve learned from the thousands of press releases we’ve written and pitched to the media over the years.

First, a very quick bit of context (that you should definitely read)

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 a company  announcement to the press.But it’s undeniable that the rules of the game have changed. The TechCrunch Editor at Large, Mike Butcher, summed up the mood of the media industry a few years ago in a blog post[1]:

“Mostly, ‘press releases’ are written in the way a PR’s client would write a news story. They are usually pretty rambling and designed to please the client (read: stroke their ego) rather than assist the journalist to get shit done, and fast. So, I think the press release format is DEAD.”

Mike Butcher

We think the last line is overdoing it a bit, as based on our experience, press releases are still the preferred method of communication for editors at most leading publications. However, he hit the nail on the head with his other points, so the PR industry has had to adapt its methods to achieve the end goal of media coverage.

In this guide, we’ll explain how our press release templates and methodology are keeping us ahead of the curve – helping startups and other companies we work with gain more media exposure. You can also read our guide to PR in 2020[2]. This provides a complete overview of the PR industry in 2020. It also provides advice and resources on public relations for startup companies and other businesses.

Part 1 – How to write a press release (with real-world examples)

What is a press release and what’s its purpose?

Let’s break it down to the basics; a press release is an official announcement from a company, organization or individual, providing information about a newsworthy event. The goal is to gain media coverage by sending the press release to journalists, bloggers, and influencers.

They’re often one of the main components of a well-balanced PR and media strategy, alongside other mainstays such as guest articles, expert comments and opinions, and media appearances.

But earning media coverage is just the means towards bigger-picture objectives, which are usually one or more of the following:

  • Build brand awareness. You can reach your target market very effectively through earned media.
  • Increase your legitimacy. Crucial for startups. Potential customers or investors need to have faith in your business, positive media coverage can really help with this.
  • Gain referral traffic. Media coverage generated from a good press release, especially when talking about a new product or service, can generate referral traffic.
  • Increase backlinks. This can be an effective way to combine PR and SEO[3], but this depends on a few factors. We’ve written a guide, explaining when press release backlinks are good for SEO[4].

When should I write a press release

So as discussed above, press releases are used to share and communicate news about important company announcements. The most common press release announcements include :

  • Company launch/startup launch
  • Securing funding
  • New product, service or territory launch
  • Winning or renewing a partnership
  • Publishing research findings
  • New hire
  • Winning an award
  • Customer or user acquisition milestone
  • Industry-first
  • Upcoming event 

But not everything that falls into the above list is necessarily newsworthy. And there are some instances when alternatives to a press release[5] could be more appropriate for you.

What news is press release worthy (and what isn’t)

A common mistake many companies make is to issue press releases when they have nothing newsworthy to announce, often dictated by an arbitrary press/outreach calendar cycle. The golden rule we always stick to with our clients is:

‘never issue a press release for the sake of issuing a press release’

Companies that don’t abide by this rule will usually find there is little to no ROI with this activity. They will also suffer from opportunity cost, as their resources could have been put to better use on other PR and marketing activities that would have provided a better return.

So how do we decide what’s newsworthy and what’s not?

It all comes down to the substance of the announcement. Here’s the thought process of our editorial team.

What’s your story and how to tell it

Now you know what news is press release worthy (and what isn’t), the next thing you need to do is tell your story in a way that adds value and intrigue.

What’s your angle?

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. Whereas in the good ol’ days, you could put out thin press releases with no hook and expect some coverage, the information age we now live in means you need to work much harder to get attention.

The angle you take will depend on what you’re announcing as well as the industry you’re in. Here are some common examples:

  • Solving a problem. Does what you’re announcing solve a known problem?
  • Addressing a need. Does it address a clear need within the market?
  • Progressing towards a goal. Does it help you move towards a goal?
  • Achieving a goal. Have you achieved something of value? Does this have wider benefits?
  • Providing new insight/challenging orthodoxy. Does it tell us something we didn’t already know or challenge current assumptions?

What information should you include?

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.

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