portrait

pr.co blog

Publish online press releases in minutes: try pr.co

What Product Hunt brought us in one day

We got featured on Producthunt yesterday (YAYYY!) and we collected a lot of great feedback from the community.

image

We also saw lots of traffic coming from Product Hunt. More on that in the next few days.

About the feedback.

I have the feeling that the commentators were talking about press releases as we all knew them in the past, and not about our toolkit. Nonetheless, some of their points deserve some in-depth analisys.

Let’s check some.

I think the press release is dead. It’s much better to reach out personally with a compelling story to press relationships you’ve built. Why am I wrong? - @eric3000

Relationships are pretty much everything. It’s not like the two things are mutually exclusive, though.

Press releases as we knew them are dead indeed, and their role in media relations is decreasing.

On the other hand, media relations aren’t going to die anytime soon. Businesses are more and more willing to craft stories to engage their audience, and we are empowering them in doing so.

Managing media relations means doing everything to make easy for other people to talk about you. Setting up your pressroom. Preparing your presskit. Reaching out to journalists, bloggers, editors, influencers, and your mom. Checking the results of your campaign, to improve and polish your pitch for the next time. We help people do that.

Press releases as we knew them are gone, but their original purpose is still alive in this game, whether we like it or not.

If your goal is to get press, you need a targeted 1-1 approach with key journalists which may require exclusives to break your story. - @knakao

I do agree personalized approaches are required. Exclusives depend a lot on the situation IMHO.

The real tools that help with PR often do show up on this page. Take Yesware, which will help you see if journalists are actually opening your pitch and clicking the links it contains. This isn’t a positive PR tool because it’s invasive, it’s great because it gives you insight to build a better relationship and waste less of their time. - @MaxTB

Yesware is a great tool if you use Gmail. We have a similar feature, since we track open and click rates on all the emails you send through pr.co and aggregate data in real time reports.

I think the bigger and more likely risk is that innocent companies will sign up, thinking that they are doing the right thing and looking the part, when in fact they are just spamming journalists with more elegant-looking chaff. - @MaxTB

I agree again. There’s no way to skip those time-consuming tasks, unless you hire someone to do so. We always try to help our users invest more and more time and effort in their PR activities, since crafting a pitch, finding a new angle or planning a big launch are never easy to accomplish.

Would like to hear your thoughts on that, comments are open. Twitter works, too.

We got featured on Product Hunt​ today

image

Please upvote us: here!

Tags news startup

How to write subject lines for emails that get opened

Have you ever looked at emails as a marketing channel that belongs to the past?

You may need to change your mind: email marketing is alive, well, and expanding. We send 182 billion emails on an average day (source) and we’ll probably send slightly more in the near future.

image

As inboxes get more and more crowded, though, you need to figure out the most efficient way to reach your goals. When it comes to email marketing, what’s the main issue between you and your goals?

Your emails must be opened.

This is a bottleneck you have here - any different outcome means missing your goal. Much have been written about how to set up your emails to maximize the opportunity to have them opened. The most time is usually spent crafting the subject of your emails.

Here are some tips about it.

Personalization is not only a name

If you let people subscribe in the right way, you can include the recipient’s name in the subject. Most email marketing tools allow you to do so. Since this is a very common technique, your open rates may not vary that much.

You can also customize this further, according to the specific needs of small groups of subscribers. For this to work, you’ll first need to segment your email list into groups that are based on similar topics.

Moreover, what about localization? If you can be specific about a geographic area, do it. Usually, the more specific you are, the better the results.

Avoid cold emails as much as possible

If you don’t keep in touch with your contacts for a long time, they won’t remember who you are, what you do and why they signed up in the first place.

This example here from this post is quite meaningful I think.

image

A quick recap of what you do can also be helpful if you’re cold emailing people. When readers remember your name or know what they’re going to receive, they’re more likely to open.

Variation VS. consistency

If your subject is something like “Newsletter #47 - July 2014” - I see your problem here. It’s good to give continuity and consistency to your communication, but each new email should provide a clear indication of what is inside.

These 4U will help you

As simple as that. The headline is the teaser of your content, so it should be meaningful while not revealing everything. What is the press release about? Why is this important for the reader? If you don’t give your readers a reason to click, why should they?

This can be summarized with the 4U approach: make it Useful and Unique, provide a sense of Urgency, be Ultra-specific.

One rule for all occasions

If there’s one only magic rule that will help you crafting the prefect subject line, here it is: just describe the subject of your email. Give the reader a reason to explore your message further. The Golden Rule is:

Tell what’s inside, don’t sell what’s inside.

Some words to Avoid

According to an extensive study by Mailchimp over 200 million emails, three words usually have a very negative impact on your results. Not because they trigger spam filters, but because people will be way less likely to open your email.

They are: Help, Percent off, and Reminder. Also, avoid extensive capitalization and exclamation marks. AT ALL COSTS!!!

Is length still a big deal?

The length of subject lines is one of the most debated issues. We believe many different factors can influence such results, and therefore length itself can’t tell us much.

If you want to dig further into data about the length of subject lines, you can find a goldmine here.

What President Obama can teach us

Obama’s email campaigns experimented a lot with subject lines. The main goal was usually to raise funds for political purposes, and it was clear that a casual tone was getting the best results. You can read about his best subject lines here - my personal favorite is still “Hey”.

Try, measure, repeat

Remember your mailing list is yours only. All the suggestions in the world can’t replace the advice you get from your past results. Did you run experiments on your subject lines already? Do it as soon as possible. Check how you list of contacts reacts. Change your plans accordingly. Repeat.

As in real life, use common sense and don’t do anything your mom wouldn’t approve. Well, your mom doesn’t need to know everything ;)

Further readings:
Subject Line Comparison, on Mailchimp
The perfect email, on Vero
Email opening infographic, on PR Daily

The Press Release Reloaded: Three Reasons Why

Here you can read about the 3 pillars of the social media press release, courtesy of our guest blogger Mariela Dimitrova, the marketing wire of the Amsterdam-based software and communications company Rock & Code. She is here to share some of her thoughts and expertise. Thanks Mariela!

Back in the day, press releases used to be the main currency of public relations.

They came in a certain shape, they all answered a certain set of questions, and they did not deviate from the accepted PR standards. At that time, there were very few channels of distribution and PR professionals were sending their fine-tuned pitches to journalists hoping to get them published. It was considered a big achievement to get that mention in a national newspaper.

Moreover, such accomplishments were commemorated for CEOs, boards of directors, and shareholders in a complex ritual of collecting newspaper clippings and making PR scrapbooks. At that time, there were no tangible ways of tracking results, measuring brand awareness or exposure. Everything happened in the blurry context of the hypothetical and there were only rough estimates.

Then, in 2006, something happened.

image

Journalist Tom Foremski wrote his famous article “Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!” and virtually sent the traditional press release on the road to destruction. Along came the social media explosion and things changed beyond recognition.

Indeed, this was the time when the death knells chimed loud and clear and the news release died - to rise in a different shape. A better press release format rose from the ashes and the world got the social media press release.

This phoenix press release differs significantly from its predecessor in three main aspects:

  • focus,
  • methods of distribution,
  • reach.

Hence, it is mandatory to examine those three facets in a greater detail and draw certain parallels with the hope that businesses would adapt to the PR changes rapidly.

1. Change of focus

Whereas the traditional press release was mainly written for journalists and it was the professional writers who gave it a certain shape and angle, the social media press releases should be written for just everybody.

Indeed, traditional journalists have lost some of their influence, and a new powerful movement of bloggers and tech-savvy citizens has taken control of the online media fronts. What is more, people are more media aware and they often pick and choose the news they want to read. Often, they find the industry bits they are thrilled to read on their own.

So, pay attention PR professionals!

Before you sit down and write your press release, think about your potential pool of readers. You no longer have to appeal to journalists only. Now you have new variables in your PR equation, so think about it and figure out a way to write something that appeals to multiple media actors.

2. Methods of Distribution

In the good old days, traditional journalists and their editors were perceived to be the sole gatekeepers to media exposure. The rise of social media radically changed the PR landscape and empowered the average internet user.

You need to realize that while you are sending pitches by mail to journalists and editors, people are searching the web and social networks for information.

Hence, you might be barking at the wrong tree.

Whereas getting your press release published in newspapers and big online journals still counts a lot, do not underestimate the power of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg, ReddIt, Delicious, etc. Those are excellent channels of distribution and all you have to do is to create an account and learn the best practices.

In fact, the number of people who check their Twitter and Facebook accounts in the morning is significantly larger than the number of people who read the newspapers. Think about it.

3. Reach

Let’s face the basic facts. In Q1 2014, Facebook has over 800 million active users, Twitter over 250 million. The blogosphere, on the other hand, has its billions of bloggers ready and willing to digest news and write their entries.

Now consider the number of people that an old-fashioned press release can reach on a daily basis. Bear in mind that online media allow you to share information and interact with others.

Takeaway

The moral of this story is that if harnessed properly, social media can provide for a greater reach of your press release. Hence, make sure that your press release is shareable online and go conquer the new media Wild West!

In conclusion, we can simply go back to our initial premise and shout it out loud: the traditional press release is dead, long live the social media press release!

Do you want to become our next guest blogger? If you have a relevant topic you would love to blog about, please contact us.

How to cover online Public Relations for your startup

Startup founders are busy people: building a business, disrupting a market and changing the world forever are time-consuming tasks!

How much do startuppers care about public relations then?

Even if most startups start working on marketing the day they start building their product - which is good - the PR side of marketing is often postponed. The reasons are quite obvious: these tasks are time-consuming (remember PR is a marathon, not a sprint) and ROI is often debatable.

Still, you’re missing opportunities here.

Whether you decide to hire a PR agency or not, you need to cover PR. PR drives behavior with customers, investors, employees and competition. What is said about you publicly matters. In Mark Suster’s words:

“If you don’t define the story about you, somebody else will.” 

image

That’s why it’s important to build an online presence for your brand that features your communication assets and is available for journalists, bloggers and editors. In one word, your pressroom.

Here are 8 things to keep in mind when building your online presence.

1. No second chance for a first impression

What your aunt used to say is true: you never get a second chance to make a great first impression. The first glance, the first few seconds, can tell a lot about you. This is even more true on the Internet: the readers’ attention span is slowly decreasing year after year. You’d better get it right the first time then.

Work on your pressroom, make it so easy to understand that even grandma can get what you do.

2. Have a clear proposition

The more time you spend preparing, the more time you’ll save afterwards. Before sending out any pitches, take time to craft your message. Talk like a human, express your point of view, give real answers. Find a clear way to explain your vision and your proposition.

Develop the story of your brand. Your story informs the rest of your PR efforts, from pitches to press releases and everything else.

3. Time is (uh, can be) on your side

Prepare everything in advance and time your news to perfection. You can decide to set an embargo for your launch, or you can give an exclusive. Be aware these methods may be risky when not everyone is on the same page.

"When you do decide you want to give a specific media channel the news before everyone else make sure they are interested and agree on a date they will write about your story so you will know when you can send the rest of your PR contacts the news". Marc Köhlbrugge 

4. Don’t make them think!

People are lazy and journalists are people, too. You’d be surprised how many results you can achieve if you make it easy for your contacts to help you. Do you want them to tweet about your press release? Let them do so from your email. Do you want them to provide an introduction? Ask nicely. Do you want them to cover your startup in their blog? Read how to do it here

Another thing you can do to make life easier for journalists: provide all the necessary information about your business in one place. Add pictures, company information, spokespeople’s contacts to your pressroom.

Also, don’t forget to integrate you pressroom into your website

5. Show social proof and press coverage

Wait, why should someone believe what you claim in your pressroom? You know, people may be suspicious.

To prevent this kind of inconvenience, you can add social proof to your pressroom. All the previous articles about you can be added as clippings to your pressroom. Another interesting strategy is to ask your clients for a quote - you don’t need celebrities, just experts or people who share your users’ pain. Be as precise as possible when you ask for quotes. Read more here.

6. Be responsive

This means 2 different things. First off, you should answer promptly whenever someone has additional requests about your business.

Moreover, your pressroom should have a responsive design in order to look good on any screen. More than half of the emails are opened on the go: what if your contacts click on your email and your pressroom is not optimized for mobile? If so, it’s going to look bad: make sure your pressroom features a responsive design.

7. Fake it till you make it

When you establish an online presence and take control of your communications, there’s an additional benefit. You make the rules, so you can cheat a little bit.

I heard this for the first time from the serial entrepreneur Janneke Niessen: “Fake it till you make it”

We’re not talking about lying here - there are many ways to suggest you are already at a further stage even if it’s not true yet. Another way to put it? Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.

So you can set the frame and the vocabulary for your business: you write the words that people will use to describe your work. People are lazy, you know that right? If you provide text and context in meaningful way, some people may use your own words to talk about you.

8. With a little help from your friends

It’s not always the case to reinvent the wheel. Whenever you find something another business is doing well, you can focus on adapting their strategy to your own brand. In T.S. Eliot’s words:

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different”.

You never know where the next business lead comes from. That’s why a consistent pressroom can show professionalism on your behalf when you can’t do it in person.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.