101-How-To: Write and Distribute a Press release

Sometimes I forget the basics.

Since I started working with startups, I've discovered and exchanged a lot on various topics, among which social media, PR, websites, lead management, SEO, traffic optimization etc.


And that's obviously one of the best part of my job.

However a bunch of recent work sessions made me realize that some of what I consider “basic stuff” and took for granted, actually were not.

That's why I've decided to start this “101-how-to” series of posts.

Here we go: #1 - How to write a press release?

  1. Title: work hard on that one, and keep it concise. This is the 1 second chance you have to grab people's attention. It should be short and should content all key names / topics at once.
    Example: Kwaga selects StoriesOut to handle its worldwide online and offline PR.
  2. Subtitle: Once you've grabbed the attention, expands the title with subtitle. Give more info based on the title.
    Example: The startup fighting email-overload wants to expand its international reach as its market traction is skyrocketing.
  3. Date/place: Do I really need to explain? ;-)
  4. Press release body: Develop your points in small paragraphs. 1 idea each. Use bullet points to structure the message. Keep in mind that most people "skim-read" press release. Make it simple to them to get your point.
  5. Quotes: If you add any, make sure they appear distinctively from the rest of the text. Use italics and indentation. Content of quotes must give an extra angle to the announcement. Prefer figures and real facts to emotions.
  6. Boilerplate: this is your company's standard presentation. It is the last paragraph of your press release and presents your company in 6 to 10 sentences. Again, work it out carefully and make sure to keep it up to date.
How to distribute a press release.
  1. Distribution wires: there are huge differences on these types of services, mainly based on geography and on the industry your company is.
    Basically in the US no one would email a journalist directly to distribute a press release but would rather use services from Marketwire or PrNewsWire.
    In France is it not that obvious. Even though these international wires do propose their services here, I find their reach to the IT press pretty poor. Now, there's another one: Hugin Group but never tested it. BTW, I would appreciate any feedback from actual experiences of it ;-).
    However, keep in mind that these services cost money and that prices vary with the word count of the announcement + the press target + regional target.
    The services often cover both distribution to information sites and to journalists. But you'd rather check their lists before committing :-)
  2. Free websites to post your announcement to: there are many of them in each country. A simple Google search would give you an idea. In France I found a nice post listing the main ones, it is here.
  3. Emailing a journalist list: few tips here
  • If you do it manually, use BCC ;-)
  • There are quite a bunch of platforms that you'd like to use for your emailings, ranging from free to not-that-expensive. My favorites are: iContact and MailChimp. Great thing with these platforms are the tracking and analytics they provide you with. It really helps enhancing your reach. Strongly recommended.
  • Put the text of the press release directly into the email. DO NOT attach it!
  • Complementary resources: Screenshots, pictures, videos etc. should be mentioned and linked to. Do not embed them in the press release itself, a) there are too many email clients out there for you to make sure these resources would display properly on each of them b) firewalls may well just spam your message c) it would make your email too cumbersome to open.
  • Post your press release online on your blog or website so that you'll be able to direct people to it via other media such as twitter, Facebook/LinkedIn status etc.
I think I covered most of the key points, if you think of any other please tell me, and above all, tell me if this post is of any use to you!

Any other topics you'd like to read about in my forthcoming post ? Tell me.

Let's save time: share your experiences!