Your company’s relationship with the media goes a long way in determining its public image. Companies with poor media relations usually occupy the negative side of stories while companies with good media relations enjoy positive coverage.
Startups, on their own, do not usually have the massive PR budget that big companies have, so they may not be able to hire PR big guns to spin stories for them. But what startups can do is to be exceptional with their press releases. The fact is, because of the buzz around startups and tech, media outlets are ready to carry stories about startups. Because people care.
But the other side of this subject is that not a lot of startups know how to write impressive press releases. For every press release, there are two sides to it: the startup preparing and sending the press release, and the journalist reading and rewriting the press release for publishing. If the startup sends an ill-prepared press release to the media outfit, it will get exactly what it deserves. Some journalists are kind enough to help make corrections, others just don’t bother. Then there are journalists who would just ignore the press release altogether.
So, if you want to make sure your press release is taken seriously and properly attended to, here are important points for you to note.
1. First, write it like a journalist would
Writing like a journalist means you have to follow the inverted pyramid model of news writing. The main point of your story must appear in the first paragraph. As much as possible, it should be in the first sentence. Pushing your main point to the second or third paragraph is called “burying the lead.”
Once your main point is in the first paragraph, you should follow it up with the next most important point. And then back up details follow in the succeeding paragraphs. The points follow in order of importance; so, the least important point appears in the last paragraph.
Do this and you’re well on your way to writing a kickass press release.
2. Mind the audience and media outfit you’re sending it to
Have this in mind: the journalist and audience you are reaching out to cannot read your mind. You mustn’t leave room for assumptions or allow them to second guess your work. Be explicit with details but be as brief as possible. You can say a lot without saying too much.
Also, take into cognizance the language the audience of the media outfit understands best. The house style for that media outfit is also something you must have in mind. This means you must thoroughly research both parties: the media outfit and the audience. Write to suit them; write so they can understand what you have to say. No one is Professor Charles Xavier. Again I say this: we can’t read your mind.
3. Use simple language and avoid jargon
The point of a press release is not to showcase how intelligent you are (except that is your aim). The point of a press release is to communicate an idea or ideas, and communication is said to be ineffective if it cannot be easily understood. So avoid technical language unless it is absolutely necessary. There’s a lot to be read, you know?
4. Don’t let your PR be too obvious
Everyone knows one of the objectives of press releases is to promote brand image. But this brand promotion is best done when it isn’t obvious. If your PR is too obvious, you run the risk of people switching off to what you have to say.
Psychologists say that human beings don’t like to feel like they are being sold something and ‘forced’ to buy it. It’s best for them to think they made their decisions autonomously. So, in simple words, don’t try to bullshit the audience.
5. Mind your font type and grammar
Your font type, your sentence structure, your punctuation and paragraphs. All these things are important. That means it is necessary for you to read your press release over and over, then give it to another person to read.
Make sure you don’t use funny looking font types in a bid to appear fun and fancy. Stick to Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Some organizations have custom font types; they are allowed to use that in press releases as long as it’s professional enough.
6. Be creative and unforgettable
Now that we have defined a scope for what your press release should look like, we can talk about creativity now. Creativity is not a crime, but it should be done with sense. If you must be outrageous with your press release, make sure you’re outrageous with sense. Let your ‘outrageousness’ be newsworthy.
I want to throw in a little extra extra for you.
Anatomy of a Press Release
Every month, more than one million people turn to Google to know what a press release is. That means a lot of people don’t even know what it is; more so, a lot of people don’t know how to write one. Here is a simple breakdown of what a press release should look like.
1. Contact details
This goes on the top left of the document. It includes the name of the sender, phone number, email and other relevant contact details.
The headline of the press release should be short and must contain the main point of story. It shouldn’t be longer than thirteen words. It should be centralized and emboldened.
Don’t send a press release with no headline; don’t give people headache.
This, as I explained earlier, is the main point of your story and must appear in the first paragraph. All other details come as part of the body.
The body of the press release contains more details about the lead, and quotes from your company’s spokesperson. Other details that may not be about the main point but relevant to it could also be included.
This is the last part of the press release. It’s just a one-paragraph pitch of what your company does. Relevant links and company contact details could be included here.