That moment when you want to send a press release… DIY or should you let a professional do it?
You, as a startup, have the idea, or even better, a viable product, a team and you want to let everyone know you are on the market and you rock. The next thing is intuitive: you need to start communicating about your product. And from this point on, things get foggy, even though they don’t seem this way. “Communicate” is a vague word and can mean a lot of things, but for many is synonym to the famous “press release”.
At a first glance, it seems obvious that you need to find someone to help you in this regard, or even better (or worse) to think that you can do it yourself. If you have an intern or if one of the founders has a marketing background or takes over this responsibility, it is a good start because one has to “populate” with content all communication channels of the start-up: website, social media pages. But this a completely different story about which we will talk another time.
However, if one start-up wants to get attention from media, I would vote for getting in contact with a communication specialist. It can be a freelancer or a small agency, but you need someone with PR skills, so a marketing person is not the best for this specific activity. Why? Both of them can write a text, but only the first one can deliver it according to journalistic standards. Keep in mind, this is not marketing, but media relations (another article will be dedicated to the differences between the two disciplines).
I know that due to lack of budget, many start-ups prefer to handle this part without external “interference”. After all, press release templates are everywhere online, even tips and tricks on how to write them. But there are several things that you will miss if you try to do it by yourself:
- A relevant media database for your announcement. You can “build” it in several days if you spend several hours exclusively to do this. However, this is not enough because, in order to make the journalists open your press release you need to establish a relationship. Meaning, you need to establish a relationship with each journalist and let them know you are there, and realistically you don’t have the time for this kind of socializing just before an announcement.
- A correct positioning of the announcement. Journalists are like investors. They need to be pitched and the announcement should be convincing enough to make them open the e-mail. Your need to support your catchy title with what you write in the text. If not, they will consider it a clickbait. You can fool them once, but not the second time.
- A proper analysis of the relevance and timing of the announcement. You might be excited about a new partnership, or about entering a new phase of development for your product, but these are not necessarily relevant for the media. Why? Because in the general context of the market, these important things for you might not impact a big enough part of their readers, so the journalist does not take into consideration writing about it, it is just not a big enough breakthrough etc.
Instead, a PR person can deliver :
- Exposure to relevant media. No one will “sell” his/her database, but will be the liaison between you and media.
- A text which fits the media rigors (there are plenty of details which someone who is not a PR person can overlook and upon which you can win or lose the attention of a journalist).
- Can give proper advice on what should be the best approach for your announcement. Do not push away a person bold enough to tell you that your idea is not media material. Instead ask how can he/she help you make it so and, if not, what other communication channels should be used.
So, what should it be? DIY or collaborate with someone who “cooks” press releases all day long ?