How do I make my next press release a success?

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

Question: I’m running a startup and I haven’t had much luck with press releases.  What do I need to know before I do my next press release?  I need this one to be a success.

Answer by Naomi Kokubo, Editor of Founders Space

The first thing to know is that most press releases get ignored or lost in the noise.   There are so many startups competing for the attention of top bloggers and journalists that they simply ignore the majority of press releases and inquiries.

Here’s what you NEED to know…

  • It seldom pays to spend hundreds of dollars on a press release through PR Newswire or Businesswire.   Unless you have a major announcement that involves a big name company that the press and analysts are tracking, don’t waste your money.
  • What works best is a direct email to key bloggers who cover your space.
  • Keep this email short.  No longer than a few sentences.
  • Be sure to add key data or a hook that grabs the attention of the reader, like “According to NetoMetrics, 89% of websites inflate their traffic.  Our new tech keeps them honest…” This is just a made up example, but you get the idea.  It includes data, a source for the data, and what you do all in one sentence.
  • A personal email from the founders/CEO of the startup works best.  Most top bloggers don’t want to hear from a PR person.  They want to talk to the founders/CEO.
  • The mainstream journalists at the Wall Street Journal or NY Times aren’t as accessible as bloggers, but they do follow the top blogs, so if you get written up by a top blog in your space, that can lead to other media sources covering your story.
  • Above all, remember that you’re telling a story.  Write the headline into your short email.  They have to see the story in order to write about you.   Personal stories also work wonders.  The news is about two things:  facts and personalities.  If you combine both, you can have a winner.
  • Don’t put out a press release or contact bloggers unless you have compelling news.   If you contact them about nothing, they’ll put you on their “ignore list” for the future.
  • Lastly, you need to find the contact information of key bloggers in your space.  It isn’t hard.  Just ask colleagues, scour their websites, etc.  They’re usually pretty accessible.
  • If you can’t find the contact info of the bloggers you need to reach, you may want to hire a PR firm for a limited engagement to help connect you with a short list of key bloggers.   Use PR firms wisely, and you’ll find they are  effective and worth the money.  I use them mostly to make connections.

Lastly, below is a nice article that covers some of the basics…

– Building a Media List

– Distributing your News Release: the Wires

– Distributing your News Release: Mail, Fax, or Email

– Building a list of media contacts

– Timing your distribution

– Journalists

Go see the full article

Comments & Advice:
  1. jeffgoldsmith says:

    Product announcements rarely help – events can be smash hits. Hooks. Concepts. Stories. That's what give journalists something to write about. For my book Cafe Haiku, I put on Cafe Haiku Slams and made the cover of the Chicago Tribune weekend section, KRON, KFOG, and more. I didn't just send press releases – I called, I sent postcards, I waged a MARKETING CAMPAIGN TO SELL A STORY.

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