The Internet has commoditized — and continues to commoditize — the news release.
Yet, there’s still a time and place for the humble news release. And when the mission calls for this tactic, it’s logical to craft the narrative so it has the greatest probability of resonating with journalists.
I came across a LinkedIn post from Mike Butcher, a TechCrunch journalist last week that — take a deep breath and prepare yourself for one of those rarest of moments — praises a PR action.
In the post, he offers a PR tip calling out the packaging of this particular news release as a version of utopia.
Here’s exactly what he wrote:
Bloody hell, someone sent me an actually informative press release.
Clear, to the point, no attachments, key info up front.
This is the ideal format:
Hi Mike, I am working with a company called COMPANYNAME at the moment and they have just closed a round of funding for expansion in the UK and US markets (which currently account for over 50% of their business) that takes the total funding for the company to $XXX million. We’d love to offer TechCrunch the exclusive.
They currently have close to 1 million clients across 70 countries and offer localized app solutions in six different languages.
Their main competitors are: • COMPETITORNAME • COMPETITORNAME • COMPETITORNAME
The full press release is pasted below and their logo can be found here: wp-content/uploads/COMPANYNAME.png
A few key stats — the company currently:
– develops around X,000 apps a month
– has increased revenues by 40% over the last 6 months
– counts the US and UK as its 2 biggest markets followed by Brazil and Italy
Your colleague Darrell Etherington covered their first round of funding in 2012. Here’s the URL…
While he doesn’t say it, I think the chop-chop-chop format creates a sense of credibility even though there’s no way to validate stats like “40% growth over the last six months.”
It’s also worth noting that it’s not standard operating procedure to offer an exclusive to TechCrunch. The same package of information has relevance whether pitching one journalist or 25 journalists.
Butcher wrote a post a couple years ago, “The Press Release Is Dead — Use This Instead” that disguises a rant as a communications lesson for startups (or is it the other way around?). I don’t agree with every word, but this passage nicely captures what not to do in pitching journalists:
“Many opening gambits are very simplistic emails which don’t answer basic questions. Many even say (WHY?!) ‘Can I send you a press release?’ Are you kidding me? Are you really kidding me? I am now going to have to waste 10 seconds of my life replying to you with something like “Hey, so I have no idea if you should send me your press release or not because you know what’s in it and I don’t. So OK, sure, knock yourself out. Join the party in my inbox.”
Get to the point, ideally with fresh language and in a way that differentiates.
Of course, it helps if U2’s The Edge has invested in your latest round of venture capital.
Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine TechCrunch paying attention to a scant €1.9 million fundraising event, no matter how well-structured the news release.