Press Release Best Practices
Press Release Best Practices
A press release is a document sharing key company milestones and other important information. A well-written release paints a picture of accomplishments as your company grows. The most important releases should be distributed online via a wire service to build your digital story. In many cases, you will also want to share the release with targeted media, potential investors, and other key stakeholders.
While press releases do not always result in media coverage, they are powerful tools which can be used to build your company’s digital story. They can help you build industry recognition, connect with investors, and achieve a number of other business goals.
During the accelerator program, we will be teaching you how to strategically use press releases as you grow your business.
As part of the accelerator program, Newchip has provided you with a number of press release templates for company milestones which may occur during and after the program.
The templates have a “fill-in-the-blank” format, with information prompts along the way. With that said there are a number of best practices, which are important to keep in mind.
Formality. When first introducing a person in a press release, it is important to list their first and last name and title. If they are from a different company also include the company name. If you reference that individual again, there is no set rule on the choice to use the first or last name. Rather style will be dictated by cultural norms, your industry and your overall company brand feel.
Length. A press release should be 400 to 600 words. As you will learn throughout this process when pitching reporters or investors, brevity is key. Your release should be short and sweet, while relaying all relevant details.
Use whitespace as much as possible — long paragraphs look and feel overwhelming to readers. If you are presenting data, use bulleted lists to make the information easy to digest.
ALWAYS Get Approval. When you are issuing press releases which highlight a new partner, customer, investment or other event it is CRITICAL to ALWAYS get approval from outside parties, as well as anyone else who was quoted in the release. This is especially true if you are discussing something involving a larger organization. For public companies press releases are a matter of compliance and reporting. A press release sent too early or pre-pitched to reporters can cause major issues.
Before writing a press release which involves another organization, always ask if they have a corporate communications department you can work with on announcements or anything media related. They will keep you on track with their organization’s policies. In addition to keeping your relationship with these important parties on the right track, these teams may help increase your reach if they are willing to share the release throughout their organizations.
The start-up community is abound with stories of companies that take an “ask forgiveness, not permission” approach to issuing press releases. Most end badly. Don’t let that be you!
Items to Incorporate into Your Release
Keywords. Using strategically placed keywords throughout the release makes it easier for your audience to find the release when searching the web for information and is a great SEO tool. There are a number of tools you can use to find your industry’s keywords. Spyfu is one, which enables you to see the keywords bringing the most traffic to your competitors.
Quotes. Having quotable talking points is a highly effective way of getting key messages out. When deciding who you should quote, make sure to choose an authority within the company or someone whom the press release directly affects. The more important the individual, the more weight the quote will have to reporters and readers of the release. As you are writing your quote, think about what is most important to investors and other key stakeholders you want the release to reach.
If you are closing a capital round, asking one of your more high-profile investors is a great way to add additional credibility to your release. If you are announcing a partnership or new high-profile customer, you will also want to get a quote from them.
A picture is worth sixty-thousand words. Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than words. You can use this to your advantage by adding visuals into press releases. In addition to capturing a reader’s attention and allowing people to more easily digest information, using multi-media add-ons to your release, allows you to tell your story visually. You can include infographics with key statistics and data, photos of your product, or a video demonstration.
They can also tell a story to investors and other key targets of the release. Having an image of your big team, a new piece of equipment, your new office space or you speaking at a big industry conference can go a long way to adding credibility and showing things about your business above what was discussed.
Add in Supporting Facts. When possible, add supportive facts and data to provide background and credibility. You might also want to go into more depth about the future significance of the event outlined in the release.
For example: In a new hire release, you will want to add in how the person’s experience and relationships will impact future goals.
Call-to-Action. At the end of your release, you always want to direct the reader towards what you want them to do next. In the section on how to write a boilerplate, we discussed adding a sign-up for your demo and/ or directing people to your website to learn more. However, you can subtly weave in calls to action throughout the release.
For example: In a new hire release, you can add in the fact that you plan on hiring 10 more people across your marketing and technology team within the next quarter.
If you are raising capital under one of the provisions which enables general solicitation, which allows you to publicly disclose your capital raise, you could additionally include a link to your funding campaign. You could also include the email of the person on your team managing investor relations. Like always make sure you confirm your offering type and any communications restrictions with your legal counsel.