“Please find attached a Press Release that will be of interest…”

Before you ever write a press release, you should first consider where and to whom you will be sending it. This – surprisingly often overlooked - activity is the key to the success of any press release and of any pr programme, and will repay any effort you put into it.

It’s also a process of research, and compiling your press list in advance will go a good way to shaping your releases, and framing your message and content. This is a valuable exercise.

A press list should always be very well tailored to suit your subject matter. A focussed list will always yield the best return for your effort; after all, it should be made up of writers who will be reasonably interested to receive your ‘news’. Consider: will the recipient be happy enough to receive your news, or will it just be drag in their Inbox? – with a well targeted media list, the answer will always be the former.

And it’s worth noting at this point that – unless you are a major multinational with big market news to impart – that most journalists will NOT be all that interested in your ‘news’. Your so-called ‘disruptive news' is generally nothing of the sort for most journalists, labouring under hundreds of similar claims week in week out in their Inbox. Thus, for SME tech firms, approaching the media should always be considered for what it is: a ‘hard sell’ activity. And just like every other ‘hard sell’ activity, the care taken to identify your market in the first place will up your chances of success, in this case, coverage.

In an Irish context, this usually means the technology and some selected business correspondents of the main newspapers and selected magazines and websites, along with business desks of the main broadcast media. Most tech business owners already read about Ireland’s tech scene, so it’s worth spending some time researching and collecting the names and contact details of the individuals you think will be interested to hear from you. Follow them on Twitter, and check out the subjects and companies they cover.

This approach is also true when considering your overseas tech media. Generally I have found that tech business owners will usually have a very clear view of who the important media are that cover their vertical and technology. The same rule applies: in advance of writing your first release, research and collect the names and contact details of those who cover your area. Here again, following them on Twitter and checking out their beat is a very worthwhile and insightful exercise. (If you are at a loss for who you should contact, a useful place to start is the press page of your competitor.)

If the budget is available and the ‘news’ is important enough, you might also consider occasionally releasing through a newswire. There are a number of services available: Marketwired, BusinessWire and PRNewswire are among the best known of these. These services sell the use of their distribution circuits, which are offered according to geographic reach and area of interest. Thus, you can distribute your release according to your vertical, AND to specific countries or regions. This is work to be done - and a price agreed - in advance of any release day; releasing through the wire ‘on the fly’ can quickly ratchet up costs. So, when you set up your account, it’s worth taking the time to talk to the marketing executive assigned to you. Decide in advance who/where you want to reach, and how much you can afford to spend. And stick to it.

Finally, a word of warning: in my experience, simply sending out a release via a newswire alone rarely yields any sort of results beyond low value ‘syndicated’ coverage reproducing your release. For the best hack at decent media coverage, all of the above areas really must be considered – your own media list covering local and vertical journalists, as well as newswire.

There are no shortcuts.

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