In this step, we’ll work through drafting the documents you will send to the media.
First we’ll help you figure out your key messages.
We’ll then show you how to draft a media release and give you a template to follow; we’ll also give you some pointers on finding the right case studies to illustrate your story, plus help you with your imagery.
Once you have worked through each 'tab' and you are happy with your materials, you will send them to us to check. We will come back to you with some suggested tweaks.
Then you can move on to Step 3 in which we’ll go through which media to target and the best way to reach out to them.
First you need to think about what key pieces of information you want to get across in your stories. There’s no point going to all the effort of creating a story if it doesn’t do the job of communicating the key elements of your business.
We’ve created a worksheet to help you figure out what your key messages are.
You will use a media release to communicate your launch news. You should have worked out what you want to say in the story worksheet, so refer back to it when you draft your release. We have put pointers in the template to show you what to put where.
You have to get your point across quickly to grab the media’s attention, so think carefully about your headline. I was taught to ‘say it straight and let the journalist create’, so your job is to pull out the most interesting and attention grabbing point and lead with that, not to be so clever and creative that your headline ends up being too cryptic to understand. If you have a killer fact/stat then use that.
There's nothing wrong with playing it straight:
‘900 children die every day. Wiping your bum can save lives’
(900 children under 5 die every day from diseases caused by poor sanitation so Who Gives a Crap toilet paper gives 50% of its profits to sanitation projects around the world).
Aussie gin company launches Christmas advent calendar with 25 specially created flavours.'
'Meetings kill creativity. 60% of small businesses say most meetings are unnecessary.'
'Help Me! raises $7 million for app to reduce Australian suicide rate'
If you fancy being creative, then go ahead:
‘DD cup runneth over for online bra salesman’
(Online bra company that caters solely for larger women proves a huge success).
‘Duo collars market with digital shirt making’
(Shirt company launches using digital technology).
'Can you find a BFF on an app?’
(App for finding friends, not lovers).
‘The numbers don’t lie: why startups fail'
(An accounting firm weighs in on the debate on why 90% of startups fail).
Once you have your headline, you have to tell the story. There is a formula to writing a release and we show you that formula in the media release template that you download below.
Remember you are not writing a finished story for the journalist, you are giving them the building blocks to write their own story.
When we were taught to write a story at school, we were told that all good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Well completely forget that! With a media release, you flip this; you start with the punch line and work your way back from there.
At the end of your media release, make sure you include a company boiler plate - this covers the basic details about your company and what it does. It’s a quick reference tool for media so they get all the facts about your company correct. We’ll point you in the right direction in the template.
Keep your language simple and clear; don’t use jargon.
Keep your copy tight and to the point; less is more.
Leave out overly descriptive words; some words are red flags to journalists. A few are groundbreaking, unique, innovative, next-generation, game changer, industry leading, cutting-edge, best.Yes of course if your product truly is a first, then you have to say that however be careful not to overdo it. The trick is to let the journalist make the call on how to describe it.
Leave out symbols eg ©, ™, ®. As hard as you've worked to secure these, they are unnecessary here as a journalist will never include them in their story. If you put them in every time you mention your brand name, the media release will start to look like an ad and will turn the journo off.
And once you’re done, double, triple check the spelling and grammar. Print it out and give it to two or three people to read just to make sure.
[NOTE: Don't worry if you don't have a suitable case study at this stage, just keep it in mind for the future.]
When we took you through how to build a story, we talked about case studies.
These are essentially customers that are willing to talk to the media about how wonderful your company and product is. They act as endorsers that the media can use to back up your claims.
You can use them in a number of ways:
1. Include a quote from them in your media release so that someone other than you is praising your company or product.
2. Put them forward for interview, again so that they are telling the media and their readers how fabulous you are, making it more credible.
3. Use them in your photos or footage to show a real person using your product.
Having a spokesperson to represent your brand is paramount. This is the person that explains what your business is about and brings your brand and product to life. This person is most likely to be you, but it might also be someone else in the business.
So how do you prepare yourself or your spokesperson for speaking to the media? How do you get them up to speed on the key messages and make sure they do a good job of explaining your reason for launching?
The best way to do this is to create an internal briefing sheet – this is NOT something you share with the media. It will be something your spokesperson learns by heart or they can keep in front of them when they are being interviewed over the phone.
First you list your key messages. Then you think about all the questions the media could ask you and you prepare an answer. Write down the good and the bad questions and decide the best way to respond.
In every industry, there is a pressure point – eg alcohol encouraging irresponsible drinking; nanny service vetting candidates or ethical sourcing of fabrics for fashion items – so make sure you cover off yours and have an answer for each potentially tricky question.
Some starter questions could be:
- How is your product different? Surely it’s the same as any other out there?
- Does it actually work?
- What’s your background experience? What makes you an expert in this space?
- Are your products ethically produced? Have you visited the factories?
You get the idea.
PHOTOS & TV FOOTAGE
PRINT & ONLINE
Visual assets are crucial to landing coverage for your business or product. Journalists and bloggers will always need imagery to include in their stories or write-ups, and video is often helpful as well.
You need to think about the images you’ll supply to the media to illustrate your story. You’ll need jpeg images of some or all of the below:
Your product (on a white background and in situ/in use)
Your homepage or app (always nice to give a few options)
Your app in action
Customers using your product or service if possible/appropriate
Always have shots of the founders for a business story
Don’t send massive files – reduce them down to around 1-2MB and 300dpi for print.
Keep a collection of images on hand, so you can share different selections with different media.
Online publications prefer landscape images as they fit better with their designs.
If possible, feature your brand name or product in the shots of people. This could be the founders holding or using the product, the logo on a wall behind them, or something as simple as wearing a t-shirt featuring your logo. (Note that the “logo t-shirt approach” only tends to work for business media, so try to be more subtle for consumer media.)
Avoid attachments where possible. Instead, provide a link to a Dropbox folder (or similar service) from which media can download your image collection. Consider using bit.ly to reduce and customize the name of the link.
It's all about first impressions, so consider using a professional photographer. A good shot can greatly increase your chances of securing coverage.
TV producers need plenty of filming options to ensure they have ample footage for the length of the story. They’ll likely film most of it themselves, but the more options you provide them with, the bigger the story will be.
Interview with your company spokesperson
Interview with your expert about the issue
Interview with/footage of your case study
Try to supply footage of your product being used and/or the problem it solves in action – you can either set this up so the TV program can film it or you can do it yourself beforehand, so long as it’s professionally shot and high enough quality to run on TV. You might already have this footage for your website.
Please don't progress to Step 3 until you have read every tab and completed
at least your key messages & media release.
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