Press releases are a hybrid of news and promotion, and an essential part of any equity crowdfunding campaign. They take the form of announcements, but are almost always designed with the intention of selling a product or bolstering a corporate image. A well-timed press release can seriously elevate your visibility and capture crucial media and influencer attention. But the world of PR and journalism can be competitive, fickle, and difficult to time.
- Choose your platform
Your market research will guide you in understanding the types of media your target audience consumes. Where you submit your press release should be based on the news outlets your target market frequents. You’ll also need a good understanding of who regularly publishes releases similar to yours, and a prior relationship with them helps. This is easier to achieve with lower-level journalists and bloggers as opposed to big media corps (unless you’re particularly well-connected). Your target list should include a mixture of both. The former you can approach personally or via a journalist outreach aggregator such as Prowly, Press Hunt or Just Reach Out, but the latter you should consider using a press release distribution service like Get The Word Out or PR Wire.
If you have more time to prepare your campaign, it's also a good idea to subscribe to a service such as Source Bottle (Australia) or HARO (Global), which provides daily opportunities (via email) to get publicity for your business. Here, journalists will post stories they are currently working on and the type of expert they are seeking for comment. If you're a good fit for a particular story, this provides a great opportunity to piggyback off of larger conversations happening in the media, rather than the "hard sell" of a traditional press release.
- Craft your headline
Your headline is the difference between a journalist’s attention and a journalist’s bin. One rule of copywriting is to keep your purpose in mind with every sentence you write. The sole purpose of the headline is to get them to read the summary. The sole purpose of the summary is to get people to read the article. If you can isolate the goals of each portion in this way, you’re thinking like a copywriter.
- Write a short summary
For the summary, less is more. Its purpose is to grab the attention of the journalist or PR agent you’re writing to so they can decide whether they want to read further - after all, they’ll likely read 100s a day. Your press release summary needs to be efficient, concise, and interesting, keeping the above rule in mind.
- Tell your story
This time, more is more. When ploughing through releases, journalists will be looking for a clear angle. Make sure you provide enough information to paint an engaging and likeable picture of you and your company. The human element is key - this is what makes it a “story” that other humans will want to pick up and read, rather than just another boring corporate announcement.
In the main body of your press release, it’s all about striking a balance - you want to give a journalist enough to work with, but the ideal is to get them intrigued and contacting you with more questions, so keep the whole thing to a page or so (or around 500 words).
- Make it easy
It’s the journalist’s job to perfect the copy, but don’t slack on the quality of yours. A well-written press release enables a quick transfer into the finished article (if you really want to curry their favour, write it in the third person so save them switching tenses around). Double check your facts and figures, and leave the flowery stuff to them. You both have a common goal - to get people interested in your story. Give them lots to work with, but trust them with painting the picture.
- Ask the question: is it news?
A press release is essentially news, so it has to be brand new information. If you’re not saying anything new, or your story is already out there, no journalist is going to be interested.
If you already have a strong following in the pre-launch phase, you might want to hold your fire for when the need is more pressing. A press release can be used to drum up renewed interest after the official launch, when investor numbers are plateauing, and you’ve exhausted all other marketing avenues. Remember - it’s only news once, so choose your timing carefully.
Along with the rise of the crowdfunding model has come a swathe of niche professionals who know how to get a campaign seen. You might consider investing in a professionally written press release (or using our guidance in creating your own), or talking to us about our highly-connected network for distributing your release. After all, it's all about connections in this business. Contact us to learn more.