All entrepreneurs discover (sooner or later) that it takes more than sound business acumen to bring an idea (no matter how novel) to life. What no one probably told you is: for a fighting chance, you’re going to need an arsenal of smart marketing tools. Now before you storm off in search of the perfect marketing agency or public relations firm to get the word out about your venture, there are some steps you can take to kick-start the process.
It all starts with the press release.
A well-crafted release can do wonders for both a newly launched initiative and an established company. You simply need to know where to start.
Do Your Press Release Homework
For a press release to be effective, it needs to target the correct media outlet. A solid understanding of the journalist you’re targeting will give you a strong sense of the types of stories they generally cover. This will help in crafting the release in a way that piques the relevant journalist’s interest and ultimately gets picked up by the publication.
It’s important to keep in mind that the same press release can be written a number of ways. It’s up to you to find the most suitable angle and to highlight the snippets of information most relevant to a particular journalist. It’s essential to know who you’re dealing with first before picking up the phone or sending an email. Laying the groundwork before working your magic is absolutely key.
Think Like A Journalist or Reporter
Before writing a release, keep in mind the person who will be on the receiving end. This will affect how you craft the release and will even impact word choices. Remember that journalists and editors are busy deadline-chasers. They don’t have a spare minute to wade through awkward, long-winded emails.
Be as clear and concise as possible — the fewer words, the better. You must ensure that every word used is essential. In addition, make sure your release clearly explains why the journalist should care. If you can satisfy that ‘why’ and hold a journalist’s attention, you’re on the right track.
Write Your Small Business Press Release
You may feel overwhelmed the first time you sit down to write a press release. It’s a smart idea to start by free writing. Just get your message out on paper without any regard for spelling, grammar, style or positioning.
Once your thoughts are written down, it is easier to go back and edit. You’ll probably find yourself doing a lot of rewriting before you settle on a text that sounds just right. That’s okay, and part of the press release writing process.
Journalism is driven by what is known as the Five Ws: Who, What, When, Where and Why. Make sure your press release answers each of those questions. If not, you may want to consider fleshing it out more. Your press release should provide a journalist with all the information needed to write a story.
The lead sentence is also a crucial part of the press release. This is the introductory sentence, which needs to capture a journalist’s attention to learn more. The lead should contain the perfect balance of factual information and intrigue. The tricky thing about the lead is that many try to squeeze too much information into it. Like the rest of the press release, succinct and to the point is crucial.
Once you feel confident with the content of the press release, it’s time for a thorough spelling and grammar check. Getting someone to proofread before you send can be very effective. Even the tiniest error can make a journalist write you off. Writing mistakes are simply unprofessional and should be avoided if you expect to be taken seriously.
Follow Up After the Media Pitch
Sometimes the efficacy of the press release lies in the follow up. A few days after sending the press release, it’s a good idea to send a brief follow-up. This should reiterate the main points and make the journalist want to cover the story.
Writing a press release takes time and practice. You have to be willing to rewrite and to hear your fair share of “not interested.” Whatever you do, don’t give up. In the end, your persistence will pay off more than anything else you do when launching your venture.
You’ll soon see that there’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing an article you initiated publish. And the financial rewards may surprise you too. Good luck!
Zach Cutler is a dynamic entrepreneur and marketing professional who formed Cutler Group, a Tech PR agency, in 2009. He specializes in crafting innovative communication campaigns to help emerging and established tech companies thrive.