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Startup Academy: Downloadable Press Release Template

Press releases can get your featured in the media

By George Chilton, Creative Director of Hubbub Labs, a content and digital marketing agency based in Barcelona.

In our previous Startup Academy article we showed you how to write a press release. Due to popular demand, here is a downloadable template for general product launches and startup news. The Google Document can be viewed here: Downloadable Press Release Template.

Press release recap:

  1. Keep your releases short, sharp and to the point
  2. Lead with the most important information, add details as the press release progresses
  3. Don’t use jargon or media buzzwords, it is off-putting and unnecessary
  4. Don’t try to sell your product to the journalist, but do outline key features
  5. Tie your news into a current trend or story
  6. Make the most of your social proof (reputation) and link founders’ names to relevant professional profiles (e.g. LinkedIn)
  7. Ensure your service is clear and easy to understand and that you differentiate it from the competition
  8. Outline your company mission and make it compelling
  9. Use industry context to show where you fit in and why your company is important. Back up any claims with trustworthy links
  10. Use strong, media friendly quotes
  11. Put key company information in your About boilerplate

A quick note on reaching out to the media

Journalists have very little time to read and evaluate your news stories. Ensure that you are targeting the right reporter; each writer has a beat, or specialism, and they will ignore stories that fall outside of their remits. Also make sure that your pitch is personalised, and explains exactly why your story is important and of interest to them.

If you get traction, be prepared to make yourself available to interview and add further details. Journalists will do their own research, and often need more background from company leaders.

Read more about talking to journalists and pitching your press releases and articles to editors in George Chilton’s Entrepreneur Magazine article 5 Things Entrepreneurs Should Never Say to Journalists.

Before you go!

If you would like help writing a press release and pitching it to relevant media contacts the Hubbub Labs team is here to help. 

 

Downloadable Press Release Template.

Startup Academy: How to Write a Press Release

By George Chilton, Creative Director of Hubbub Labs, a content and digital marketing agency based in Barcelona.

Many startup founders dream of featuring in the media, but haven´t the slightest idea of how to go about getting the headlines they so want. There are a number of useful channels you can go through to see your name in print. In this Hubbub Labs Startup Academy post, we plan to show you how to write one of the most traditional ways of communicating with the media – the press release.

While some have prematurely declared the press release dead, the truth is, the majority of  journalists still use them and find them to be invaluable tools.

First, what is a press release?

A press release is a targeted message to the media that sets out your company´s news in a clear and concise way. Journalists will use your press release as a basis to research and write a story. Have a look at some press releases on PR Newswire for some up-to-date examples (note that not all will be perfect models).

It´s important to remember that a press release is not a free advert for your company, and it must be newsworthy if it is to get any traction in the media.

What makes a press release newsworthy?

Few people outside your team, friends, family and clients care about your company very much. Unless your brand name carries a lot of weight, new hires, app releases, and funding rounds (unless it´s massive) will struggle to turn heads…or make headlines.

But you can turn this around if you do one or a combination of the following:

  1. Have a strong story/narrative
  2. Tie your company news into a trending topic
  3. Have a compelling mission
  4. Add value to the readership

When you have a Story that ties in to a Trend, offers Value, and links to a Media-Friendly Mission you might get the traction you want.

 

How do I write and structure a press release?

The average length of a press release is around 400-500 words. In terms of style, it should be clear, easy to understand, without using jargon, buzzwords, or over the top terms. 

Innovative, world-changing, reimagining, the Uber of X, disruptive, unique…are all clichéd marketing terms that are likely to turn journalists off your story. While you can add humour and spark to your release, a matter-of-fact tone tends to work best.

When structuring a press release, imagine an inverted pyramid. Lead with the broadest and most important information; as the release progresses more details are added. A journalist should immediately understand the story from the headline. The rest then fills out context, detail, and comment.

The headline

Your press release needs to communicate your message as directly and simply as possible. Your headline will make it or break it: a good one will get a journalist’s attention and a bad one will get binned. Capture the story in one gripping sentence.

The strap line

Your strap line adds flavour to your story, a single sentence that offers wider context, information, or defines the company mission. It’s short, snappy, captivating and further sells your news to the reader.

The date line / first paragraph

Leading into the opening paragraph, the date line adds essential information, including location and date. The purpose of the first paragraph is to explain your announcement. While you can make it sound interesting, don’t make the mistake of being too complex, or of filling it with too many facts and figures.

Following paragraphs

As you progress you must decide which details are the most significant. the key details should be further up the release, added context must follow. For example, a new product launch might look like this:

  • p.1: Announce name and show who the product is for and why it is valuable
  • p.2: Outline product’s key features
  • p.3 Show how product relates to company mission
  • p.4 Include a quote from the CEO explaining why this is important
  • p.5 Show how your product is different to the competitors
  • p.5 industry stats, facts and figures, size of market, etc.
  • p.6 End with a quote from the CEO summarising why the update is exciting and important
About boilerplate

This section explains key information about the company. When and where it was founded, mission, size of user-base, website, etc.

Contact

This includes key contact information – preferably your spokesperson or founder.

In some cases you may wish to include images, videos, etc. but often these are best linked to from the release. Understandably, file attachments are often looked upon suspiciously by news organisations.

Look out for more Hubbub Labs Startup Academy posts on press releases, the media, content marketing and more.

5 core motivations that drive the Hubbub Labs team

What motivates you?

By George Chilton, Creative Director of Hubbub Labs, a content and digital marketing agency based in Barcelona.

Motivation and goals are key

When you’re in an early morning marketing meeting it’s often tempting to cut straight to the chase. More often than not, people begin asking about USPs, market demand, positioning and pricing, branding, and so on. Someone will write a list on a whiteboard, and another will look busy on their phone, nodding and agreeing that the messaging is key.

There’s no doubt they are necessary questions. But there’s one – far more important one – that very few people ask in a bleary-eyed 8am conference call. And it’s to do with motivation.

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

Before getting into product and service details, about messaging and differentiators, it’s one of the first questions we like to ask our clients. We want to understand what drives them to be great at what they do, their motivations, and what is at the core of their businesses.

If you know why you do what you do, your clients will buy into your ideas, not just your products. Brands like The Body Shop, Innocent Smoothies and Apple, for example, all have ideals and ideas that people pay for. It’s not just a bar of soap, it’s ecological; it’s not just fruit juice smoothie, it’s free of preservatives; it’s not just a computer, it’s innovative design. 

On the surface, it sounds like a stupid question. But when someone asks you this he or she is really asking about your motivation and ambition. What makes you excited about your life? What makes you want to do the things you do? Who are you?

Of course, we have to ask the same question of ourselves all the time. If we don’t we’ll lose focus – and a company without focus or motivation is going nowhere. That’s where this list comes from, it’s the five reasons why we do what we do at Hubbub Labs. Our motivations and ambitions, and the reasons we love putting on our lab coats every day.

Why do we get out of bed in the morning?

  1. Our team loves ideas. Everything we do is driven by an intense desire to understand and learn about the world and the people in it.
  2. We are a lab. This means we hypothesize, experiment, fail, repeat until we get to the answer. AB testing, analysis and creativity help us find the best ways to drive leads to your business in the fastest way possible.
  3. We love genuine people. Without interesting, diverse and unique people, life is dull. We work with your team and get to know you. When we understand what makes you special, we can really understand your mission. 
  4. We are driven by creative energy. Building things makes us human, so let’s celebrate your creation and find the best way to show the world why it’s brilliant.
  5. We are true to you. We drill down and find the value your products and services offer, because that’s why people love you.

Let us know what motivates you in the comments. Just one big shiny idea, or a list of reasons. We want to hear about your challenges, ambitions and core company beliefs.

The one key metric guaranteed to help your startup grow

Help your startup grow with


Are your clients saying good things about your startup? Let’s find out.

Metrics bring targets, focus, and scary pivots to startup teams. George Chilton, Creative Director of Hubbub Labs and prolific tea drinker, looks at one metric he believes could be the difference between life, death and impressive growth at your startup.

 

When I’m at parties people often approach me and ask, “George, what’s your favourite business metric?”

Okay, that’s never happened. Firstly, I don’t go to parties, and if I did, people wouldn’t approach me. Regardless, I’m here to tell you about Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

The NPS is an effective metric for startups, SMEs and enterprises, because it boils down how well you are serving your clients. What’s more, it’s not pie in the sky. According to the Harvard Business Review, your NPS directly correlates with growth.

So what are Net Promoter Scores, exactly? And why do they work so well?

Your company’s NPS can range anything from -100 to 100. The higher the number, the happier (and more evangelical) your client base is.

Finding out your NPS is, understandably, a little nerve-wracking, especially if you own a new business or startup. It’s akin to turning on the house lights in a theatre; you’re either going to see happy smiling faces, or a bunch of angry people about to hurl tomatoes.

But whatever the result, it gives you a solid baseline to work from, and a chance to dodge those rotten vegetables.

NPS enables you to focus on your clients and their needs, which is especially great news for startup CEOs and founders, who find it increasingly difficult to stay on track as their startups grow.

How do I calculate my company’s NPS?

Like all the best metrics, it’s stark and to the point.

First, survey a statistically significant sample of your clients – or contact them all, if you’re a smaller company. Simply ask:

On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our service to your friends or colleagues?

Then, deciding whether someone is a detractor (D), neutral (N), or a promoter (P) is simply a matter of looking at their score. If a client responds with anything from 0-6 he or she is a detractor, 7-8 and your client is neutral, 9-10 means he or she is a promoter.

Finally, to calculate your company-wide score, simply take away the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. Here’s an example:

You have 1000 results. 200 results ranged from 0-6; 300 were from 7-8; the remaining 500 were in the 9-10 bracket.

Your percentages would be as follows:

20% – D
30% – N
50% – P

PD = NPS

So here your NPS is 30.

Easy right? So easy it’s worth doing right now.

How do I know if my score is good or bad?

Your score can be positive, or negative, even zero – and the higher it is, the better your company is serving client needs and exceeding expectations.

Context is everything, so if you want to see how you fare against your competition, SurveyMonkey offers industry benchmarks.

What do I do now?

  1. Run the survey and make NPS a company focus. Each department should be aware of the NPS and its consequences.
  2. Strive to increase this metric. It will focus your team – at all levels – on seeing things from the customer perspective.
  3. Rinse and repeat. Regardless of your current NPS, if you focus on pushing it up, you will see improvement in feedback, UX, revenue, referrals, reviews, and a whole range of good things.

 

The startup sneak factor: 3 tactics used by famous companies to supercharge their growth

Startups are sneaky...sometimes

In this article Hubbub Labs Creative Director George Chilton takes a break from drinking tea to look at the startup sneak factor, delving into some devious growth tactics and hacks used by PayPal, Uber, and SnapChat.

If I asked you to describe yourself in three words and one of them was “sneaky”, I’d be quite worried. It’s a character description that most of us avoid because it suggests that we’re untrustworthy. Putting a positive spin on the word, we might be able to call it “ingenious”. Nevertheless, there is sometimes an element of this in business – especially in the early stages of startup growth.

When you look at industry giants like SnapChat, PayPal, and Uber, it’s hard to imagine that they once struggled to get traction. Of course, they all provide a valuable service to their clients, but that’s not nearly enough to make it in an on-demand world with millions of apps, fintech solutions and transport options. They needed edge, or some kind of growth hack.

Here’s a summary of how these companies used some clever marketing tactics to explode their user numbers and grow in a very short period of time.

1. Create artificial demand like PayPal

When it rains in Barcelona the entrances to the metro stations fill with enterprising locals selling umbrellas for twice their standard price. These people are exploiting, quite rightly, the principle of demand. When it’s sunny and warm (which is very often here), no one ever thinks of buying an umbrella.

But as you trudge up those concrete steps and see a dark grey sky, and a slippery floor, you know you’re in for a drenching. Sometimes it’s hard – despite knowing you have three umbrellas at home – not to shell out for one and arrive to your destination dry.

These sellers have reacted to a situation that is profitable to them. They are leveraging brief and intense demand for something that everyone needs. It’s a good business move, but there is another way to do this though – and that is to create artificial demand.

Before you get your hose pipes out and stock up on umbrellas, hear me out.

Artificial demand is required when creating a 2-sided marketplace. Imagine you wanted to market a service like eBay, for example. There you must attract both buyers and sellers at the same time. Without a market to sell to, sellers won’t sign up. Without products, consumers can’t, well, consume. It’s a chicken and egg problem, well discussed in business.

The (now) world-famous money transfer solution PayPal was in a similar situation. It needed to create an artificial demand for its service in order for it to become popular and mainstream. The company decided it would pay eBay sellers (in a manner of speaking) to use its service.

PayPal employed bots to purchase items from thousands eBay sellers, each time requesting PayPal as a method of payment. Sellers, not wishing to lose out on sales, obviously created accounts with the service.

It was an undoubtedly sneaky ingenious way of forcing the market’s hand – creating an immediate, yet artificial need for the service. Of course, once PayPal was established, people saw its advantages and it began to take off.

You can read more about this in Eric M. Jackson’s Paypal Wars, which I’m sure you can also purchase on eBay.

2. Apologise, don’t ask permission like Snapchat

SnapChat, an app which I am thoroughly too old for, went viral because of its ingenious and somewhat devious early referral system.

When you download a social app and you already have contacts that use the service, you can often find them, add them as friends, or interact with them. If your friends are not on the service, they generally don’t appear.

In its early days, however, Snapchat, displayed contact lists from Facebook without differentiating whether each person used the service or not. So, when a snapchatter sent a photo to an uninitiated party, SnapChat would send a message inviting them to sign up in order to receive the image.

As a result, millions of invitations were inadvertently sent to non-Snapchat users. Of course, no harm was done – users only signed up if they wanted. But it was a brilliantly in-built viral mechanism that certainly added to the app’s viral growth.

This differs vastly from the early days of email spamming, which we saw from platforms like Linkedin. Sending emails to hundreds of your professional contacts requesting that they sign up seemed far more intrusive that a cheeky invitation to see a fun photo. In fact, the company, which is now owned by Microsoft, had to pay out $13 million in an out of court settlement to a class action lawsuit in 2015.

3. Divide and conquer like Uber

The final example really is underhanded. Back in 2014 (a million years ago in tech company time), when Uber was beginning to really take off all around the world, it decided to aggressively target competitor Lyft by ordering and then cancelling “more than 5000 rides”, according to CNN.

By disrupting the service on such a large scale, the company allegedly hoped to attract Lyft drivers to its service.

Of course, having been uncovered by CNN, this tactic was dropped and the company suggested in a statement to the press that it may have been third party recruiters:

“We…recently ran a program where thousands of riders recruited drivers from many platforms, earning hundreds of dollars in Uber credits for each driver who tries Uber.”

More recently, in a rather poetic turn of events, Indian competitor Ola has been accused of doing the same to Uber, however on a much, much larger scale. Uber claims that Ola made around 90,000 fake accounts on the platform, and requested and cancelled drivers – causing massive disruption and serious financial losses.

There are clearly pros and cons to growth by sneak. Resorting to sabotage is rarely a good thing, and the outcome for Uber was questionable at best. On the other hand, both SnapChat and PayPal solved some significant problems during early stage growth and overcame the tricky chicken and egg problem that many service industry businesses face.

While sneak might get your foot in the door, it won’t get you inside, so make sure if you do take this route, you also have some substance and other solid growth tactics up your sleeve.