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#PR Press release, an editorial style above all

For many startups, PR is something completely new and when the moment comes to jump right in… Well… things can get a bit pear-shaped.

Some ask themselves the questions: “Is my press release well written? Who do I send it to? On what day? At what time? And then, what?”

Some might think that a press release isn’t so complicated. You just need to write a text to sell your product and send it to a bunch of journalists hoping for an article to be published or an interview on TV. Let me tell you, if you think that, you’re doomed.

To be honest, PR is a bit more complicated. You do not become a press officer in one day and you can take two aspirins and a shot of Jack Daniels before you understand all of PR. But don’t worry, we are going to go though a lot of it with a series of posts that we will publish every week on our blog.

And we start with press releases.

Press releases, an editorial style above all

First you need to understand that your press release is NOT a commercial. It must follow some rules – mainly editorial rules.

The title (100 characters max) is the most important element of your press release. It appears in your email subject and is the fist thing that journalists see when opening their inbox. Basically, the title will tell a journalist right away if, yes or no, your news is newsworthy. A good example would be: “Index Ventures raises 550 millions dollars to invest in early-stage startups.” We learn here that a fund raised a huge amount of money to invest in tomorrow’s startups. What for? Who are the startups? Where does this fund come from? Who invested? This title works. On the contrary, a good counter-example would be: “*******, e-cigarette shop in New-York”. Ok… Cool… So what? Thank you, but we won’t go further.

The summary (250 characters max) is another key element of your press release as it appears in your email content. It will allow journalists to deepen what he read in your title and definitely judge if your story deserves to be covered. Here too, be dynamic and straight to the point. Journalists or readers don’t need suspense. Let’s continue on our previous example, here’s the pitch: “A previous round of $700 million had been completed to fund companies in the growth phase”. Here we get the context. The summary completes the title to give us the big picture. Personally, I want to continue reading it. Let’s get back to our bad example, here’s the pitch: “******, e-cigarette expert offers in New York a wide range of e-liquid flavors made in the US. Tobacco aromas, fruity and fantasies, a multitude of choices to suit all tastes!” This sums up everything you can do wrong in a press release. A publicity slogan. We will never say it enough, forget promotional tone! You’re talking to journalists, not to human billboards.

The content (400-500 words) must be accessible. It is your priority. A random reader must be able to understand what he’s reading. Focus on using a professional wording but avoid technical terms. Our technology was developed using Zend framework and allows you to integrate plugins such as… Wait. What? Framework? Zend? Plugins? Thank you! Goodbye! Stay accessible: “Our technology was developed by a community of developers and allows you to easily add many options on your website”. That’s it. No headache and a happy reader.

There is not much more to say here apart from:

  • Avoid promotional tone (again, and again, and again)
  • Answer the 5W’s (Who, What, When, Where, Why)
  • Avoid funny punctuation
  • Avoid all caps sentences
  • Avoid entire bold paragraph

Multimedia elements enhance your press release and, most of all, provide journalists or bloggers material to use as illustration in their story. We strongly advise you to add your business video, a few HD photos and a 300 pixels x 200 pixels image for news websites or blogs. Be aware: do not use copyrighted images (or indicate it to the journalists in the caption).

To finish, here is a little illustration to sum things up.


If you want more PR tips or feel ready to lunch your campaign, join us on PressKing

Thu 04 Feb, 2016 - Thomas