The press release is arguably the most obvious tool of external communication and a crucial link between founders and their audience, regardless if they are customers, other founders, investors or partner companies. A professional start-up communication should give a good first impression, should create trust and build a solid reputation towards the outside world. Therefore, this communication is essential for founders. The aim of a press release, is to make editors of various media, as well as the broad public, aware of the start-up or the young company and in addition, to obtain an editorial contribution in a newspaper, on television or on the radio. For journalists, press texts initially serve as suggestions for editorial topics. Therefore, the more interesting, comprehensible and credible a press release is, the greater is the chance of an editorial contribution. Mike Butcher, arguably the best-known and most influential tech journalist of the news website “TechCrunch” claims:
„Mostly, ‚press releases‘ are written in the way a PR’s client would write a news story. They are usually pretty rambling and designed to please the client (read: stroke their ego) rather than assist the journalist to get shit done, and fast. So, I think the press release format is DEAD.“
In his article, he emphasizes that it is not the press release itself, but the format of the press release, that is dead. He argues against the far-reaching, often far too long, glorifying homage to the issuing company. Scarce pointed approaches, key questions, news characters and trend-spotting should be integrated, in order to save the journalist time and position himself professionally.
Topics for press releases
Many founders, start-ups and young companies face the challenge of wanting to become more present in the public through press releases, but lacking topics that could interest journalists.
However, one can put every topic, regardless of how boring it might seem, in a new context and thus make it not only more interesting, but also more valuable. Along the general corporate strategy, informal and average topics can be transformed into interesting revelations. That is how, for example, small product changes can turn into major achievements for the future, general knowledge of trends can turn into groundbreaking forecasts and the need for relocations transforms into enormous revaluation criteria for the start-up.
- General positions of the company on specific topics
- Forecasts on relevant topics (e.g. How will something develop?)
- Picking up trends in your own industry and taking a stand on them
- Positioning your own startup in currents trends in the industry
- Comments on current news and trends (tip: avoid political or religious topics!)
- Address recurring problems in your industry and offer solutions
- Completed investments and promotions
- New members in the management team
- Farewell to important personalities
- New cooperation partners with the purpose and intent of connection
- New customers who rate the company positively
- Relocation or a new location opening
- Announcement and evaluation of attendance at important events, exhibitions, public committees and why (announcement, evaluation)
- Winnings of tenders, competitions, pitches and awards
- Innovations in the product (e.g. new application areas, features, etc.)
- Support of PR and marketing actions in connection with current trends (e.g. globalization, digitalization, etc.)
- Social commitment and non-profit projects
- General successes
An editor or journalist receives hundreds of press releases every day, and has to sort them in the fastest way regarding their relevance and news factor. For this reason, some press leaders try to make their reports conspicuously different, in order to stand out from the crowd. At this point, one should actually consult an editor and ask him, how these kinds of announcements affect him! The answer is almost always the same. Press releases that do not take certain stylistic guidelines into account, seem frivolous, untrustworthy and immediately destroy the good corporate reputation.