Last week kicked off part one of this four part series on tools of the trade and best practice for in-house PR.
This week we will look into ‘The Message’ and some great tools for organizing around yours. Read on!
As a PR contractor for Series A and seed stage technology companies all over the world, I won’t take on any new business unless all of the following bullets are met:
- Proper time to get in front of journalists with the message.
- A blog or news section on the client’s domain where the news will go live.
- Screenshots, headshots of spokespeople, logos and other media.
- A company one-pager (background document that gives fast facts about the company).
- A simple, fact-driven press release.
- Tailored coordinated pitching.
This is the checklist around your message. If you’ve followed and implemented a few of the recommendations for managing your network, per the first post in this series, then you have a pretty good chance at getting some influencers and journalists to care about it, which is the first step to coverage and/or social shares.
Now, lets talk shop about helping you manage it.
As an MS Office veteran, I resisted Google Docs for quite a while. It’s still clunky to manage large spreadsheets, but as far as real-time edits and a single place to sync online with a client and their team around a press release, I can’t imagine life without it now.
We keep the documents in a team-view only until the draft is solid and any dates around an embargo are clear. Once pre-pitching begins (see point one above) I switch the sharing to ‘Anyone with link can view.’
When we are live, the privacy settings become ‘Anyone can view,’ and Google Docs then acts as a cloud storage medium for pulling the release into the clients domain, which I’ll get into below.
PRO TIP: For a primer on press release writing, check out David Moth’s great post here.
It’s use case is pretty straightforward: create a ‘public folder’ in Dropbox and use it to host press materials for easy downloading.
So instead of boring you with how you do this (80% of you are probably Dropbox users anyways) I’ll instead emphasize that journalists hate attachments.
A good press kit (which is essentially what you are linking to here) contains screenshots of the product/service in action, founder headshots and bios, and the company one-pager, which should be in PDF format, not Word.
PRO TIP: For more on what and what not to include in an email to a journalist, see Mike Butcher of Techcrunch’s Slideshare here. Exact slide is #46.
I have been an Evernote user since the product’s early days, and recently signed up for a premium account only because they changed the freemium plan so that you could no longer share a folder with others, which is the basis for this use case.
For me Evernote and its handy tagging system serve as a way to organize clippings. Sure, that means it’s a repository for coverage we secure after and during an announcement, but it’s also by bookmarker of choice for posts/articles I run across in my daily research that I think add value to the message and strategy as we are rolling.
My clients can review notes that I have left against each entry asynchronously, and nobody gets bombarded with emails that simply contain a link to a news item or competitor placement.
It takes a bit of steering sometimes (wow…how entrepreneurs love to email) but after I make myself clear that I won’t be reviewing any one-offs which just contain links, and that I only look to Evernote for this purpose…it becomes a very handy system.
PRO TIP: Too busy to type a note? Evernote mobile lets you record a voice note which entrepreneurs also love once they figure out 🙂
If you’ve followed all the steps above, you are well on your way to managing a great announcement (message), and as you grow your network and experience, no doubt you’ll be doing more and more of these right?
So now you need a central place on your domain where you tie all of this together. A newsroom.
Newsrooms are great for SEO purposes, because it’s where you are continually updating fresh language on your field.
If you have a pretty hands-on web development team, this is something you can easily put together in an hour or two. Here are some great examples that kept a clean look, and do the job well:
If you don’t have an internal web team, don’t worry, Totem is an easy way to white label a media section with everything you need for a one-off charge of $99.
Now that you have your house in order as far as your message, get out there and get to telling it! Stay tuned to next week’s follow up in this series, which will be on ‘Discovery and dissemination.’