Press Releases: Get Your Campaign Off The Ground
Press releases are not an unfamiliar concept, but they can play a vital role in successfully raising funds. In an edited excerpt from Sally Outlaw’s book Cash from the Crowd, published in Entrepreneur, she states: “Crowdfunding projects that generate strong press not only benefit from additional backing but also build … awareness.” That is a great thing to acknowledge, but it does not help the average crowdfunder know how to write a press release or where to send it.
Here are a few basic techniques to make writing effective press releases easier for even a novice writer.
You may be a painter, a dancer, a filmmaker, or a musician in your day-to-day life, but press releases are made for journalists, not artists. You have to think about what a news editor needs and the language that journalists use to write.
Some things to keep in mind:
Find an angle. Above all, a press release must be newsworthy. It is not enough to declare you are looking for funding. There were 191 crowdfunding platforms in the US, as of 2012. Every crowdfund creator on these platforms wants money. How can you spin your cause to appeal to the news agency and their audience? What makes your campaign unique enough for someone to put it on the news?
Save their time.
Journalists are inundated daily with press releases. The most efficient use of their time is simply editing, cutting, and pasting the release. Do not put them in the position of re-writing it because most will not. Write the press release in a format as close to a finished article as you can manage.
Remember the fundamentals. Most students learn the six journalism questions early. Be sure to answer them: who, what, when, where, how, and why?
Maximize your topline. The first sentence of your release must captivate readers or they will not continue reading.
Keep it short. Limit sentences to 25 words or less. Journalists do not get wordy, and neither should you.
Use quotes. Look to direct quotes to add insight and not information to your press release.
Indicate when it should be released to an audience. Do not make a journalist guess when your press release should go public. Clearly indicate a release date.
You must edit. Cast a critical eye over the writing’s punctuation, grammar, and wording. Errors make you appear unprofessional and make your release less likely to be used.
Adjust your release for each potential audience. The same approach will not work for every news source. Tweak your work to increase the likelihood of it being used.
Where to send it?
Once the press release is drafted, you have to send it to the appropriate places to get it published. Use these tips:
There is no shame in aiming high. Do not limit yourself to news agencies that seem likely to use it because they are not too picky, and be sure to think about all types of news, including:
o local press (the area in which the crowdfund is based)
o specialist press (the cowdfunding sector)
o specialist press (read by people who will benefit from the news in the release)
o consumer press (if there is a more mainstream benefit)
o national press (if there is significant impact or change)
Use analytics to help you find an audience. Your social networking should be helping you see a target demographic. Use that to hone in on great news outlets to approach.
Check submission preferences and timelines. Many sources have a waiting period before press releases are used. If your crowdfunding efforts are time sensitive, cross those sources off of the list.
Once you have submitted your press release, feel free to follow up by phone to check receipt of the notice.
If Writing is Not Your Strength, Seek Help
If you are not a gifted writer or you do not have time to craft a press release, a number of services on the internet can connect you with writers that will craft a custom press release. There are also many free services that specialize in sending press releases to appropriate media outlets.