The 6 Worst Press-Release Topics That Startups Pitch

Often an announcement can be rejiggered to bounce a newsworthy element to the top.

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By Brittany Walters-Bearden

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A lot of businesspeople wonder why a certain press release fell flat. Nine times out of 10, the answer is quite simple: It didn't highlight any news.

Once you're able to understand what's newsworthy, your press releases will start to generate results.

Focusing on the following six topics is a surprisingly common pitching mistake in the startup world. While some of the topics are trivial or just advertorial, others have a germ of an idea that could made newsworthy by a shift in focus in the press release:

Related: 4 Tips for Getting Your Business in the News Without a Big PR Budget

1. A sale for shoppers.

If you want to announce a special sale of goods, blast your email-marketing list but not the news media. Take to social media. Buy advertising. Try direct mail. Go crazy with any of 100 things other than bothering journalists.

2. A website update.

Unless you're a major retailer whose site very publicly crashed like Target's did in 2011 when its Missoni line launched, chances are that no one cares.

If you're introducing something truly revolutionary that will have a far-reaching impact and that will potentially change the way that things are done in your industry, then it's appropriate to issue a press release.

Launching a website and making updates to it, however, are day-to-day parts of doing business for any company in the 21st century. You may be thrilled that your webmaster finally finished the site, perhaps three months later than anticipated. But no one else cares. Call your parents. Put it in your family Christmas letter.

Related: The 6 PR Tips Every Startup Should Employ

3. Plans to participate in a trade show.

Startups are understandably excited to participate in trade shows, but purchasing a booth is not news. Focus a press release on the new product that you'll be unveiling at that trade show not that fact that you're participating.

4. A Kickstarter campaign launch.

Trying to raise money is not news. To quote Cabaret, "Money makes the world go 'round." Everyone is trying to make money or raise money. Many organizations make the mistake of focusing a release on the fact that they are raising money rather than what they are raising money to do.

If you're raising money for a revolutionary new product, a good cause or simply an interesting project, highlight that, not the fact that you're seeking money. The project itself is often newsworthy.

5. A new hire.

Hooray! Your company just hired a new employee. Does your company, as a startup, have enough brand recognition for people to be interested in its human resources changes?

Perhaps if you recruited a recognizable figure from a prominent company who opted to work for your startup by leavingan established firm, this might be newsworthy. But in most cases, this would not draw the press.

6. Hiring a handful of employees.

Are you hiring enough employees to host a job fair? If not, the fact that your startup is hiring multiple staffers probably won't make news. This development might be news for your local area. But for the most part, a better strategy would be to let your recruiter get the word out instead of the communications director.

Once the new hires bring new ideas to your company to help it to launch a new product or do something similarly newsworthy, then alert the press.

Often, the things that a startup is have some newsworthy element to them. You're just focusing on the wrong element. Instead of thinking about what's important to you or internally at the company, start thinking about what's is significant to the media and the public at large. Then you can begin to get your company's name in the news.

Related: 3 Fundamentals Learned the Hard Way About Generating PR for a Startup

Brittany Walters-Bearden

CEO and Public Relations Specialist at At Large PR

Brittany Walters-Bearden is CEO and a public relations specialist at At Large PR. She specializes in personal branding PR for entrepreneurs and non-fiction authors.

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