How to get your Start-up in the News

A newspaper on a wooden desk - Press Release
Alan Clerkin

Alan Clerkin

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A newspaper on a wooden desk - Press ReleaseFor Start-up companies, the media and all related aspects can be an intimidating arena to work into. Press releases can seem just a bit overwhelming and if not handled correctly could mean your very newsworthy development ends up going largely unnoticed.

But you can harness the power of the media to showcase your big news to the wider world:

1. Make sure your story is really a story

The first step to getting in the news is to actually have some news. Whether you should pull out all the PR stops for a story will depend on what the news actually is and which media sources your hoping to be featured on. A good general rule is that if its new, like a new product or venture and newsworthy, like a national award or investment, then people will want to hear about it. If you think your story is then newsworthy, than its time to start your press release.

2. Write your press release

When you’re a small business owner looking to get your company’s message out there, perhaps the last thing your thinking about is the actual writing of a press release.
If your company, like most small businesses, is not ready to hire a publicist, much less a strategic PR team, then the person who will be writing that press release is probably going to be you.

When it comes to writing a good press release, the essential things to remember are:

– Keep it short and on point: Remember we’re living in a 140 character world where less is more. Keep the press release to one page. Media people don’t want to read more than that. Just put the necessary info down that they need. They will contact you if they need anything else.
– Be SEO Savvy: Always thing about how to optimise visibility of your business on the web, once the release is posted online. Choose a couple of keywords that are relevant to the company and to the main topic and use them throughout the press release.
– Include your company’s contact information: If you write a good press release and leave out your contact information, it was all for nothing. Including contact number, email, website.
– Quotes and Statistics: make sure whoever is running the story has everything they need to write it up from the start – that means quotes from relevant parties, names, dates and statistics.

3. Prepare the ground work

Before you start sending out your press release, get together a list of media your want to reach out to and find the relevant persons to contact. When speaking to them on the phone, summarise the story in 20 seconds. Offer an interview if possible. When done tell them you will email over the press release.

4. Emailing Press Release

When emailing out your press release, there are a number of points to bear in mind:

– Put a subject line of your email such as ‘Press Release’ then the title. You’ll actually find out that people are more likely to read the release than a deceptive headline meant to fool someone into opening.
– No Attachments: Send the press release in the body of the email rather than attachment.
– If the news is to be put out as soon as possible, specify that it is for ‘immediate release’.
– Spell Check: Run spell check before sending out your email and take a minute to read the email before you send it.
– Contact Details: Include your contact details and in cases area codes along with your phone number.
– Don’t email blast your press release: Small business owners mistakenly believer that sending their press release to the greatest number of people possible – journalists and non journalists alike – is the best way to increase the likelihood that they will get ‘picked up’ by the media.

To be more effective, small business owners should try sending their press releases to a few dozen journalists who have recently covered similar stories in their local press or in trade and business magazines.

5. Follow up

Later in the day, following the press release, it’s a good idea to call around to ask if of when the story will be published. To avoid coming across as a pest or nagging, you can ask if they received the press release or whether they need any extra information.