Announcing a startup can seem daunting because you’re virtually unknown. Use these tips to craft an effective press release, attract attention from industry and consumer media and build a portfolio of earned media links to add authority to your organization
by Jill McCoomber
Press releases are a valuable conduit of information that reaches not only journalists and bloggers but also the general public, so you must write with both of these audiences in mind. When announcing a startup launch, it’s imperative to describe how your business differs from others in your industry, be it an innovative app, an improvement on an already well-known product, stellar staff or another newsworthy notation. Legitimate authority is the way to a journalist’s heart, so providing newsworthy content with perfect grammar and an interesting hook can result in many more email opens than ignores.
A Smooth, Informational Lead
Your news release must be crafted to quickly give the reader a reason to delve further into your article. Be sure to include all the pertinent information in the first paragraph – the “lead” needs to explain who, what, when, where, why and how in as few words as possible. Try to keep your lead under 45 words, and only stretch it to 65 words maximum if your organization’s name, product or project description is long and necessary. Use abbreviations and acronyms for well-known organizations and spell out the full name in a subsequent paragraph. It might sound counterintuitive, but it can be beneficial to write the lead before the headline and summary since the lead condenses all the information into one smooth paragraph of two or three sentences. From this stable foundation, it’s easier to build a good headline and summary and avoid redundant word usage.
Your Headline Is An All-Important First Impression
Stay away from snappy, witty or trendy lingo that has any possibility of misinterpretation; rather, tell your whole story in as few words as possible. Your headline sets the tone for what readers should expect from your body content. The optimal length for a headline is 100 characters, and keep in mind that only the first 65 characters will show up on a Google search, so top-load your copy. Use action words to capture readers’ attention and include your main call to action, the raison d’etre of this press release. You’ll be able to add details in the sub-head/summary that follows.
Set The Tone, Expand On Your Brand In The Summary/Sub-head
This is where you can add details, such as short company description and more information about the contents of the press release. Make sure not to step on your lead, meaning don’t use the same words or sentence structure in the headline and summary as used in the lead paragraph. You’re basically imparting the same information three consecutive times, so it’s important to avoid redundancy. The headline, summary and lead paragraph need to be able to stand on their own and each should clearly convey your message.
Create A Quotable Quote
If the lead does its job, the second paragraph offers an opportunity to present a statement from a person in authority. Quotes are the only place in a news story where opinions can be expressed; still, it’s not advisable to use words like awesome, great, or first-rate about a project, product or organization (a possible exception to this rule is when describing a staff member or project that has been awarded an honor). Good quotes add context and specifics to the press release and herald the introduction of a spokesperson who is a recognizable authority, such as the company founder, CEO, project manager, lead designer or another individual who serves as a logical figurehead of the organization.
Tell The Whole Story In 400 to 600 Words
Brevity is important to maintain readers’ attention through to the end. A 400- to 600-word press release has a much better chance of being published in its entirety than a longer article, so make sure to use the “inverted pyramid” style – meaning each successive paragraph includes information of lessening importance so if the press release is cut from the bottom, the preceding content makes complete sense standing alone. This means you must include all your company information in paragraph three at the latest – your website needs to be closer to the top than the bottom of the first page, and this is also the place to introduce important staff or promote investors or stakeholders. When possible, limit the release to a single page, two at the most. More earned media will result from two shorter press releases than one long one that might not make it to publication.
Don’t Forget To Add Images
Images like the organization or project logo, photos of headquarters, products and spokespeople/authority figures should be included. It’s often possible to tell a large part of the story with a good photo and caption; editors/content curators understand that images add interest to articles so the majority of internet news sites and blogs use an image with every article. Just make sure the theme is editorial and not designed or staged to look like a blatant advertisement, as news purveyors don’t like to be accused of promoting, instead of reporting on, a newsworthy company or product.
Adding images is a breeze with Faselis! Unlike most media relations companies, Faselis distributes images in thumbnail format that open with a click for easy scrolling and quick downloading of the full-sized image or video. Add as many images as you like and your press release pitch will never clog up journalists’ inboxes. Also, there’s no set word limit for your press release, so there’s never a worry about what to cut to make it to the “magic” 400-word number required by other PR distribution companies.