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Posts Categorized: Public Relations

How to Make a Press Kit

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A press kit is an essential tool that every company needs in order to earn media coverage and provide important information to journalists looking to write about your company. When it comes down to it, your press kit should provide not only the basic information a reporter might need when writing about your company, but by putting it online, it will also serve to help your company be both find-able  in search engines and accessible.

Here are the basic items you need for a press kit:

  1. Company Fact Sheet

The company fact sheet is a one-pager that provides basics facts about your company. It can be used as a reference guide for editors and provide the essential details. The fact sheet normally includes:

  • Brief description of company (your elevator pitch)
  • Description of key products and services
  • Quick facts about the company, for example: Revenues or funding raised to date, number of employees, number of clients
  • Special achievements or awards
  • Listing of key personnel with contact information
  • Listing of company headquarters address and contact information (website, social media platforms, etc.)

Think of the fact sheet like a resume for your business.

  1. Company Backgrounder

The backgrounder is the place where you can provide more in-depth information about your business. Generally more prosaic than the fact sheet, your company backgrounder should tell your story, including when and how you were founded, what was the inspiration behind the business, what the real or potential impact of the business on the industry, etc.  

  1. Biographies

Biographies provide the media with additional information about key personnel. All principal players should have biographies. A comprehensive bio includes:

  • Name, title, list of responsibilities
  • Previous jobs or businesses
  • Education and awards
  • Professional affiliations
  • Community involvement
  • Personal information (optional)
  1. Story Idea Sheet

This is possibly the most valuable tool in your press kit, and it’s the most overlooked! The story idea sheet provides brief 1-2 sentence stories that a journalist can use. Journalists often like these because it gives them something to start with. And the document will still be useful even if it’s not used right away. Journalists will often hold onto these and return to them later when it fits more in line with a something they’re working on.

Finally a few basic tips:

  • Put everything online and make it fully accessible as both a regular web page and a downloadable PDF.
  • In your PDF, make sure you put all your documents on letterhead.
  • In your online press kit, be sure to include a page where where journalists can download your logo and other photos (like C-suite headshots)
  • Use a custom, easy-to-remember URL or shortened link.
  • Put contact information on every single page, as well as a link to the full press kit.

It seems like a no-brainer to have a press kit, but you’d be surprised how many startups and businesses don’t spend the time to put these together. Fortunately, we just launched a new Rocket Pack to address this! This new package includes all of the items we’ve discussed above. If you’re need help with your press kit, feel free to connect with  us.


Cut through the Noise to Get Past Seed Stage

Cut Through the Noise

Well-known startup speaker and doer, Paul Singh, shared some interesting words of wisdom recently in a Washington Business Journal article. According to Singh, there are two reasons why startups have difficulty getting past the seed stage. The first is that there’s a lot of competition between companies to get the next round of funding. The second:

They get lost in the noise.

Quite simply, they don’t do a good enough job of grabbing–and holding–the attention of their potential customers. There are likely a lot of competitors out there, many with bigger budgets, who can drown out others in the field.

So, how does a startup cut through the noise so they can get to the next stage? The answer is one part ingenuity, one part elbow grease, and one part stick-to-itiveness.

Ingenuity

Terms like innovation and creativity get thrown around a lot (too much) in the business world, but we think a better term to focus on is ingenuity. Today’s marketing takes being a little clever as well as inventive. Not in a sneaky or under-handed way, but in a way that can quickly grab, hold and engage your audience for a good reason. Being clever in your marketing is important, but it also can apply to your product development (this is especially important as you iterate). Zig when others are zagging. Tell your story in a way that helps people feel the problem you’re trying to solve, so that they can feel the relief your product brings them. Think hard (see elbow grease below) about what makes your customers tick, what makes them pull the trigger, and find interesting and fun ways to get them to pull that trigger. Of course, you can burn those triggers out, but that’s o.k.  If you have a little ingenuity you will come up with something new when that happens.

Elbow Grease

Did your parents ever tell you when you were a kid to put some “elbow grease” into it? Ours sure did, especially when it came to household chores. Marketing and public relations is hard work. It takes a keen mind for both strategy and attention to detail. It often requires long hours, hunched over a computer, a spreadsheet, a media list. It takes constant vigilance of your social media accounts to make sure you respond to every tweet. But, as you may have found out when you were younger, the more work you put into something oftentimes the more rewarding it can be (unless, of course, that something is doing household chores). Take the time to do some market research. Take the time to hone your message. Take the time to get to know and interact with your customers.

Stick-to-itiveness

Like elbow grease, marketing and public relations takes an on-going and sustained effort. This is particularly challenging for startups who may not have the longest runway (gotta keep that burn rate under control!). And while we offer one-off, tactically-focused PR packages for startups, it’s not unusual for the results of these efforts to resemble blips on a radar that come and go. In other words, the results get out there, the company picks up some users (or 40,000 in one case), and then user growth and sales die as soon as the attention shifts away from their product.

So, if you’re a startup and you can’t afford to hire a PR or marketing firm, or even an intern to help you, here’s how you tackle stick-to-itiveness: Spend 15 minutes/day sending email introductions to reporters and editors in your industry. Spend another 15-30 minutes just scanning Twitter or other social platforms for relevant hashtags. And, perhaps most importantly, spend 15 minutes/day staring out into space (we know, this seems counter-intuitive, but trust us–this works wonders for your ingenuity).

Don’t be worried about failure or rejection (of course won’t–you’re an entrepreneur!). Stick to it, even when the clever thoughts aren’t coming or you feel like what you’re doing is hard. By committing these relatively small amounts of time, you’ll find after a few months, you’ll have actually achieved some results.


Get Your Public Relations Strategy Right!

Push-Ups

It’s the start of a new year, and that means it’s a good time to get your public relations strategy in tip top shape. Like working out to stay in shape, it’s important to regularly visit your PR strategy to make sure it’s working right.

There are five essential components to a strategy that will help define your PR initiatives. They are:

  • Objectives: What do you want to achieve?
  • Audience: With whom are you communicating?
  • Messages: What do you want to say?
  • Channels: What are the means through which you’ll communicate?
  • Measurement: How will you know if you’re successful?

Let’s talk about each of these individually.

Objectives: Seems pretty clear, right? For most businesses, objectives are fairly easy to define. More downloads, more sales, more leads, better brand awareness, etc. Those are quite common, but they’re not the only objectives that PR might address. Many times, PR is a deft tool for shaping opinions: How aware are people about an issue and how do they feel about it? What are people’s perceptions of things, such as corn syrup, crude oil, etc. a public relations strategy can be developed to influence how people think and feel.

Audience: This term is somewhat antiquated, but is still commonly used. A more accurate term, however, would be stakeholder. That refers to the larger group of people who are affected by a company’s actions. That could be customers, but it could also be anyone who could positively or negatively influence customer decisions, community members, or government officials.

Messages:  We like to say in our proposals that it’s not just what you say, but how you say it, that matters. The art of messaging (and it really is an art), is the process of developing messages that will not just trigger actions, thoughts or feelings among your audiences, but is rather a process of finding the language that will address your audiences’ needs and desires in a way that creates positive feelings about your brand, product or company. It is not a call to action, at least not necessary, nor are messages often specific talking points (though that can be part of them). Instead, they are the phrases and sentences that move your audiences closer to your point of view.

Channels: Back in the old days, there were likely just a few newspapers, three TV channels, and a handful of radio stations in each city. Today, the number of channels is almost infinite. Because time is a precious resources, this part of your strategy needs to prioritize which channels are most important to you. Now, most companies instantly think, “If I just get national media attention, all my problems will be solved.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are many circumstances where national media shouldn’t be as high of a priority. In other words, it’s best to work to find targeted channels that your audiences pay attention to. Whether that’s traditional media outlets or social networks, it’s essential to spend time communicating through channels where the people seeing your messages and engaging with you will most likely respond.

Measurement: Measuring public relations can be truly challenging, but many strides have been made to tie PR activities to Return on Investment or at least Return on Relationship (ROR). While measuring things like impact on sales is important, it’s not the only yard stick that will tell you if your PR campaign is working. Instead, it’s important to look at metrics such as level and quality of engagement (particularly if your strategy involves social media), clarity and frequency of message, and other similar stats that have less to do with a company or organization’s bottom line and more to do with how well they are managing their relationships.

 

Please note, that these are pieces of a strategy, but they do not constitute a full PR plan. We’ll be going over that in another blog post, but if you need help figuring out your public relations strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us.