Since the overall tenor of my blogs is to employ the least expensive methods to run a start-up, I do encourage the use of one marketing tool that is fairly inexpensive and easy to produce: the Public Relations Press Release. My first experience in applying the P.R. press release tool or announcement came about several years ago because a direct competitor had established a negative campaign against my company ‘s telecommunications project. I needed to dispel any misunderstandings about the rumors and directly confront the allegations with actual, verifiable facts. I drafted the announcement and hired a local P.R. firm for the distribution. I found out later that the added benefit from the P.R. announcements included an unexpected readership: many potential investors and interested parties do read these announcements and created another flow of potential deals and suppliers.
Way before tweeters and blogs, there were public relations announcements or press releases. Wikipedia dates the first P.R. announcement sometime around 1906 for a railway accident. Even then it was being used to create goodwill among the readerships. In the beginning, the only means to reach out through press releases had to be done internally or outsourced to a P.R. firm Now they can be very inexpensive marketing tools because of the Internet since the developments of websites that cater to P.R. press releases. One can draft your own or hire a professional writer and post them on the P.R. websites.
The neat thing about P.R. announcements is the ability to target the announcement to specific readerships. They can appear in newspaper publications such as the Wall Street Journal, digital business news magazines or publications, or can be found easily in a Google search for the company, if those publications or search engines feel that the announcement is newsworthy event. If one elects to hire a professional P.R. firm, the firm leverages its network to reach out to their targets such as national newspapers like the Wall Street Journal.
Blogs and tweeters need followers. A PR news release is more pro-active: it is an informational blast throughout the ethereal Web made available to many potential readers. Some PR newswires publish the PR announcement for Google or other search engines. Commercial ones direct the announcements to newspapers and digital news magazines such as Investors.com. And, if properly drafted, the announcement becomes an advertisement of the existence of the company that can be more effective than a world of “followers”.
Before getting into the essential elements of an announcement, I do have certain caveats. First, do not abuse them by generating so many announcements that the readers are circumspect about the messages. Second, there are several free P.R. website wires out there. Choose them carefully depending on the readership that the company is targeting. Each newswire can list its distribution models. Two notable examples of newswires are Marketwire and PRNewswire. Some of the free newswires have better traction with search engines than others. Others distribute their content to a list of digital publications.
And the body of the newswire should not reveal too much information to potential competitors. You do not want to tell your competitors about a product that is still in the developmental stage and give a heads up as to your strategy. Since the announcement is going out publicly, do not craft messages that alert your competitors.
Now for the body of the announcement: it needs to be drafted in plain English with basic information about the purpose of the announcement. I refer again to an earlier blog about writing style and syntax for putting together such a draft. Apply newspaper style formats and, as such, its wording needs to be crafted to catch the reader’s eye, that is, to be hortatory.
First, there is the headline – what occurred with this company that merits this announcement. It is the banner by which the search engine will describe whenever a search is made. It should be crafted carefully and precisely.
Second, you have dateline, which indicates the locale of the release and the date. It orients the reader about the geographic origin of the announcement and timing.
Third, you have the introduction that needs to be drafted as carefully as the headline. It has to answer the “who, what, when, where, and why” of the announcement. Just like an executive summary of a plan, one has to get to the point quickly and still retain the reader’s interest.
Fourth, the rest of the body gets into the details of the introduction, by providing statistics, examples, explanations, and any relevant details. Recently, I have read some announcements that seem more like “puffery” than solid information about the product of the company.
Fifth, you have to provide the boilerplate, or the “about” the company or individual. Nowadays you can provide the URL as part of the boilerplate.
Sixth, the closing has to be indicated in a standard “###” format, reminding the reader of the days when telegraph messages indicated “stop”.
Finally, you include a signature for contact and more information, which include a name, telephone number, address, email address, to reach out whether in the company or the media relations contact individual.
These announcements are short and inexpensive. And can be useful tools to market the company, a new product, or findings. It can also be used to remark on new important hires, notable investors, or change of corporate headquarters. As part of the due diligence by potential investors, these announcements are also part of the deliverables during the due diligence process. So one must maintain these announcements in your files as important documents. Most of all, the costs for P.R. announcements can be negligible and still present and market your company to a worldwide readership.