Scott Hirsch a seasoned entrepreneur explains the best ways to leverage Press Releases for your Startup
Starting up? Scott Hirsch is an international digital data marketing expert with a successful track record as a serial entrepreneur. Scott has created a number of successful startups and he has helped pioneer some of the most utilized data technology concepts in use today, including Opt-in Email, E-appending, Digital Data/Media Marketing (SEO, Google Ads and Social Media Management), Affiliate Marketing and DIY Application Development.
One of the keys to success for a start-up is immediate brand building through effective public relations. Scott Hirsch suggests getting your public relations (PR) program and up and running quickly. “Certainly, at first, there are a number of basic things you can do to organize and execute an effective PR program,” Scott says, “one that communicates your messages and builds your audience – without a big spend.”
“PR, quite simply, encompasses everything you do to disseminate information in support of your public entity, and social media is one of your primary tools,” Scott says. “PR creates meaningful exposure for significant events, milestones and promotional activities to engage with your customers and with current and potential investors.”
Here’s his basic plan:
Hire a PR Pro or Agency
“While brand building might be in your blood, you might want to employ professionals whose time and energy is dedicated to spreading your message and ensuring your brand is represented appropriately across all media,” Scott advises. “While your primary job is building the company, a PR firm’s primary task is to help you mold your messaging and disseminate it to as broad (or as targeted) an audience as you require.” You wouldn’t think of starting a company without getting an attorney or an accountant, so why try to “go it alone” when it comes to your external communications.
Get that Website Up – and Polished
“While social media is often your best tool, everything starts with your website,” Scott says. “Beyond great design, you need to make sure you’ve got all of the information you need on the site, including an executive summary of your business, management bios, press releases, media placements and a blog. I also think it’s best to operate as if you’re already a listed company, even if your listing is still on a somewhat distant horizon. IBM’s investors page, and Apple’s, are the gold standards and excellent models.”
“And don’t keep your consumer activities separate from your investor outreach,” Scott adds. “Transparency is crucial! A press release announcing a new round of financing, for example, will be distributed via wire service (see below) and shared on all your social media outlets. In other words, send everything everywhere.”
“A press release is one of the core tools of any PR program: it serves as an announcement, an invitation, a call to action and, in some cases, the foundation of a bylined article or profile of your company,” Scott Hirsch says. “And when you’re a public company, your press releases are SEC documents and a requisite tool for reaching investors and keeping them up to date.”
“Your press releases should be clean, dense and forceful,” Scott Hirsch says. “You should cover who, what, why, where, when and how in about 500 words of clear, elegant, search-optimized prose that communicates your key messages.” According to Scott, there are plenty of great examples of press releases online, but here’s Scott’s basic checklist:
- Complete contact information
- Sub-headline (at least one, no more than two)
- Introductory paragraph (Provides the main message, including the essential “What, Who and Where” information)
- One or two body paragraphs that answer the “Why?” “why now?” and “How?” questions
- Supporting quotes
- Boilerplate (precise description of your company)
“Use a wire service such as BusinessWire or PRNewswire: this guarantees each release is available to major media outlets and has been ‘officially’ issued,” Scott says. “You should also prepare specific distribution lists of relevant industry, local, regional and national media (where applicable),” he adds. “Cast a wide net and look for any angle that might garner coverage, and try to build relationships with bloggers, journalists and other writers – blast emails are useless. If possible, avoid sending releases on Mondays or Fridays, when they are more likely to be missed or tabled to the following week. Once the link is live, tweet it. Twitter has become a de facto news site – use it to get your releases out.”
“You should follow every press release with a blog post,” Scott Hirsch says, “that adds color to and provides further information in support of its key messages (and of course hyperlinks to it). These blog posts give you a chance to communicate a bit more informally. They provide you with ‘top-shelf’ native content, since they come directly from management, something you can disseminate far and wide via social media (starting with Twitter).”
“Of all of your social media options, in 2020, LinkedIn is the best way to connect with customers, investors and peers, just as Twitter is the best way to get your news out,” Scott says. “Get everything up on LinkedIn and out on Twitter first, then migrate the same information to your other social pages.”
- Post regular information about corporate activities on your LinkedIn page (alongside some consumer updates), as well as any positive media coverage.
- Post regular non-native content (articles, infographics, white papers) pertaining to your industry.
- Remind all team members with LinkedIn accounts to share all company news and non-native content posted on their own personal or professional LinkedIn accounts.
- Follow competitors, vendors, targeted media professionals and all other stakeholders on LinkedIn; share relevant posts and information and inspire “follow-backs.”
“Something will go wrong and your best bet is preparation, rather than reaction,” Hirsch says. He believes the best approach to any crisis is immediacy and honesty. “Bite the bullet,” Scott says. “Whatever incidents transpire, you must communicate with your customers and with the general public – this means a press release and consistent social media activity. You also have to make yourself available to customers, to the media and to investors.” This is also a good time to have a PR firm on hand that specializes in its ability to manage incoming requests and ensure that your brand and messaging are as protected as possible.
Scott believes your approach should boil down to two simple messages:
- We are doing everything we can to rectify the situation, compensate for damages, etc.
- We now have revised processes and procedures in place to make sure the situation is contained and will not happen again (and make sure you do).
“Conveying these messages demonstrates transparency and a willingness on the part of your management team to take responsibility,” he notes.
Finally, get on a schedule and keep it. “Commit to a certain number of press releases per quarter, a certain number of blog posts per month, and a certain amount of social media per week – three or four should be sufficient,” Scott Hirsch says. “Make your list and check it twice!
This article originally appeared on iCrowdNewswire on 3/14/2020.