With businesses growing and startups mushrooming even from tier-2 cities, one thing that will never go out of trend is the goal to be heard in the outside world. Amid the din of noise, it never hurts to put yourself across. Even if myriad marketing platforms come into the picture, the time-tested press release will never go out of fashion.
A press release should contain a story of human interest that would pique a reader’s interest. A quote or two from users of the product, including a summary of what the company does, the bio of the founders that includes contact details and other boilerplate content that gives out facts and figures regarding the enterprise is what is expected. A paragraph that explains why the editors should be interested in your story is imperative. Include high-resolution photos and case studies if available, and anything that could help your cause.
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Why is it important?
It is one of the most inexpensive forms of marketing. When I used to freelance for a national daily, most of my work involved profiling startups. Once we exchange pleasantries, more often than not, with a lot of hesitancy, the founders of startups who wanted to be profiled would pop the question about the big M: Money. “How much do you charge for getting published?” My stock answer is “XYZ newspaper pays me and you don’t have to pay me anything.” This answer is often met with surprise because their initial liaison with marketing is tying up with a PR agency who say that writers get a cut from their fees. Totally wrong. It is free to get published on any platform that you would love to get published on. If you know the right people, it is a smooth affair.
When you are in the market, you need to fight for your share of visibility in the psyche of the consumer. If you have a long-term press release distribution strategy (on the lines of an email sales funnel), it gives you a space to let people know about what you do, how you do, and why you do it. Journalists will give you more time and coverage over time when you begin a relationship. Remember, journalists are looking for inspiring stories as well. They need you as much as you need them. The more newsworthy your company is, the higher the chances of your coverage. “An e-commerce platform to buy vegetables, meat and dairy products within 2 days” just doesn’t cut it.
Assume that your company does something brilliant and the guy who writes your copy has a way with words; chances are your press release comes out as entertaining as it is informative and it gets covered. Another reporter picks up your story and before you know, reporters around the world are reproducing your story, giving you unprecedented marketing. Not an everyday affair, but it happens.
Use your coverage in a newspaper or magazine as a sign of your credibility to your clients. There is nothing wrong with exploiting it as people view newspapers (and magazines) with respect. Send a plain vanilla email to your potential clients about your coverage. Find ways to add it as a part of your ‘sales-y’ drip emails. By adding links to the article, it can direct people to your website.
When you are not sure about what to include in your press release, use any of these incidents or milestones to shoot an email to the journalists. Pro tip: make sure that you personalise it by addressing them with their first names. Otherwise the open rates will be next to nothing. It could be about the business itself, when you introduce a new feature to your product or a new product itself, when your startup receives an award, when you get funded, when you pivot your product offering, issuing a statement about a burning topic (cue: sexual harassment in startups), sponsoring a workshop, forming a partnership with another company, etc. These are some ideas that you could use. In fact, if a press release is written extremely well, any event is newsworthy.