1/30/2014— Kelsey Breseman
Back in November, when we closed our seed round with True and others, it was a topic of some internal debate whether we should look for press coverage on the raise. On one hand, we wanted to share our excitement with our supporters, and it’s not that often you have news that interests an actual publication. On the other hand, news of a raise is honestly not that interesting most of the time. It meant a lot to us, but talking about it outside of the team is really close to bragging.
One of the reasons we did decide to release the information across various news sources was to practice sending out a press release. It’s not as simple as it sounds.
Press releases are extremely formulaic, concise ways to send pre-vetted information to several reporters at once.
A press release looks about like this:
PRESS RELEASE: Your Catchy Headline Here
EMBARGO until Date Time Timezone
City, State, Date to be released— First paragraph of release. The meat of your announcement, in as few words as possible.
Second paragraph. Explain the point of your company/product/whatever you’re announcing. Still keep it brief.
Third paragraph. Quote from your CEO or whomever is most relevant to the announcement.
Fourth paragraph. Quote from someone outside the company. In our case, a quote from one of our new VCs.
Possibly mention a few salient traction metrics here. I’ve received conflicting advice on whether to include coverage by other media outlets; some reporters might recognize you as a vetted company, while others might be turned off if you seem like old news.
Where to find more information about your company/project/whatever. Particularly, link to your website and a place they can find relevant images.
More information, in smaller text, if relevant. We included labeled paragraphs “About Technical Machine” and “About Technical Machine’s Investors”.
More notes on the press release:
Headlines should be very specific. Ours was “Technical Machine Raises $1M to Make Hardware Development Tools for Software Developers”.
The press release should be concise, but contain all vital information. Organize it clearly and fact-check it.
Sometimes, reporters will copy/paste from your press release, so make sure the writing is suitable for publication.
Note that you’ll want a quote from someone outside the company, so it might take a little time to finish the release. Plan ahead!
Before the press release– contacting reporters:
If you are releasing to multiple reporters, you’ll want to set an embargo. The date and time of the embargo is the exact time at which you’re allowing reporters to release their articles containing information from the press release. We set ours for a Wednesday at 11am EST, because Wednesday is a low-press day (so we might stand out as more interesting), and because we see the most engagement from our users around 11am EST (8am PST).
You’ll want to contact reporters approximately one week ahead of the embargo time. Initiate contact with an email that does not contain the press release, but does contain the headline and embargo date. Actually, let me give you an
Subj: Your Catchy Headline Here UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL Date Time Timezone
One sentence that gets the reporter excited but doesn’t give away any details (mostly just your headline restated).
Something along the lines of: I can send you the press release under embargo (until Date Time Timezone), and I’m free to speak with you over the phone (Times & Dates, ~two of them, a day or two before the embargo is lifted) for a pre-briefing.
Our press release had success with GigaOm and the Boston Business Journal, two out of the five media outlets I had emailed about the raise (all five had previously written about or been in contact with Technical Machine). We also sent the press release to our investors True Ventures and Rough Draft Ventures, who supported the release by publishing related blog posts on the same day.
In the end, I’m glad we sought press on the raise. Our families, friends, and supporters were enthusiastic; we had good exposure on the raise; and now I know how to release any further announcements to media outlets.
I hope this is useful! Please let me know if you have any questions.