Launch press release

Congratulations! You did your first newsworthy thing by launching your product. If your concept is something unique, you may be able to get some press by just that alone. Try to get the most out of it, as it can be a lot easier to get people interested in something new rather than to try to get people to care later after you are already old news.

Traditionally one of the first things you can do is a launch press release. This means composing a piece of carefully crafted text very shortly outlining what your box is about, formatted in a specific way and sending it off to relevant reporters and bloggers.

Why would you want press anyway? Because press mentions bring traffic and very valuable backlinks, which later on brings you even more traffic from Google. The social validation and legitimacy aren’t bad either, as it can help you get even more press later when reporters who are researching you see that you're already being talked about.

While many say that press releases are useless, it is a rather low effort activity with a potentially high payoff, so perhaps it is something worth trying still. 

Nothing is as obnoxious as other people's luck

When Candy Japan launched, just various blogs picking up the launch announcement was enough to gather a few hundred paying subscribers. We got lucky getting blog coverage without an official press release. Some kind bloggers happened to be reading the entrepreneur forum where the launch was announced and it got picked up that way. If I did it again I would additionally write a press release announcing the launch and make sure as many sites were aware of it as possible. Reporters get tons of such announcements, but you never know when you might get lucky.

And you'll need the luck! As the past TechCrunch writer Jason Kincaid notes in his book The Burned-Out Blogger’s Guide to PR: "Because while it’s nice to think that reporters have structured and fair processes for deciding who is blessed with press coverage, you are at the mercy of the black box that is the reporter’s mind. They’re well-versed in explaining why they chose to write one story over another, but this deliberation is roughly as scientific as how they decided what to order for lunch."

When your box has just been released, the release itself can be news enough to gain some mentions on various sites. It will likely never be this easy again, so make the most of it. If you try to get someone cover your launch and they see that it was already covered some time ago elsewhere, they might think it no longer newsworthy and not publish it for that reason. That’s why it may be smart to contact many blogs in a short span of time.

Structure of a press release

Alright, so perhaps you are now ready to go ahead and proceed writing your press release, which just means penning down an official statement to send to to journalists. For a reporter it can be the starting point of writing a story about the launch of your subscription box. 

The first line in a press release indicates whether the information can be published immediately or if it is under an embargo. You can use an embargo to give a date for when your launch announcement can be published to coordinate information going out at the same time. You should be aware though that many reporters dislike embargoes, so using one could hurt your chances for coverage.

To indicate that the information can be released right away, start the press release with "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE", otherwise to indicate an embargo use for example "FOR RELEASE ON JAN. 8, 2019 AT 10 A.M. EST".

After this comes the title of the press release, also known as the slug. Reporters receive hundreds of press releases, so this shouldn’t sound too dry. Use action words such as "launches", "introduces", "releases", "announces" or "unveils" to make your press release sound interesting and newsworthy. 

After the slug comes the lead. This is the first sentence after the slug and should contain the “five w’s”, which are: who what where when why.

After the lead comes the more detailed content of the press release. In general the most important information in your press release should go to the top, with each paragraph having decreasingly important information. This is called the inverted triangle format.

You should write in a factual way and avoid any hype terms only designed to make your box sound awesome. Keep your opinions out and stick to the facts. Reporters have a keen sense of when they are being marketed to and don’t want to just give you free advertising. The tone should be objective and be written in the third person, avoiding usage of “you”, “I”, “we” etc.

The length of a press release should ideally be around one page, possibly two.

A press release ends with “###”. This is used to indicate that the publicly releasable information is now over. After this you should include your contact information, including a phone number at which the reporter can reach you if they have any last minute questions.

It's not hopeless

Luckily you are on the same side with many bloggers. You want coverage, they want pageviews. Some writers are even directly compensated for the pageviews they generate for the blog they are working for, but this still doesn’t mean they would publish absolutely anything. Especially higher profile bloggers can spend more of their time covering very important topics in-depth and are less likely to just post a rephrasing of your press release.

Even if publishing more is better for them, there is still an opportunity cost to be covering your launch story instead of something more important that could be even more popular. The content should be interesting to their readership.

In my next post I will show an example of a crazy PR-savvy startup that has managed to get their stories published in almost any context. To read my next post, please... well, if I put a newsletter signup here you won't sign up anyway, no-one uses RSS anymore, if I get you to become my Twitter follower my message will probably be just drown out by everything else in your stream. So it's hopeless. Well, I hope by luck you happen to read my next post when it comes out! If not, maybe it was never meant to be.