You have been working on your product (or company) for a long time now, and have watched it blossom from a eureka moment into a real, functioning entity after months of hard work, solitary confinement, emptied bank accounts, bank loans and missed birthdays. Now at long last, it is ready! While it is tempting to scream your product launch from the rooftops, and to send pitches to every journalist under the sun, we advise you to take a step back and check to make sure you are truly ready to unveil your creation to the world.
1). Are you really launching now (or in a few months)?
When reaching out to journalists, timing is essential. Tech journalists receive an overwhelming barrage of pitches daily, and prioritize based on whether it is real news, and whether it needs to go out immediately. Whether it is for a product launch, funding announcement or company milestone, there is no point in jumping the gun and sending pitches for an announcement 2 months in the future, as they will be immediately disregarded. Wait until one or two weeks before your announcement, and then you will have a greater chance of getting picked up. That said, don’t leave it until the last minute, as journalists always have plenty of work to do and won’t work overnight to get yours finished, approved and published.
2). Do you have working examples/videos/a beta version to try out?
In the cut-throat world of start-up journalism, appealing to the vivid imaginations of your journalist isn’t going to cut the mustard. Be it a new app or a company launch, journalists will want to be able to try out the service, download the app, or see screen shots or videos of the product in action. Don’t expect them to spend time writing about your product based on a few well written lines in a pitch email; they will expect real evidence that your product is something that is going to make a positive change to the world. If you cannot provide them with this, then it’s better to hold off and get better prepared.
3). Do you have a digital identity?
While journalists are unlikely to go as far as trawling through your Facebook photos, maintaining an active digital identity is important. Journalists do background research on the product, company and founders. If they draw too many blanks, they may lose interest. Maintaining a well-designed web page with an “About Us” section, contact information, and without annoying “coming soon” or “page not found” announcements, is key. An active company Facebook page, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts with recent posts and updates are also a bonus. First impressions do count, and no journalist is going to write about your product if they know it will direct traffic to a webpage that looks like it was put together for a high-school computing project.
4). Have you prepared a press kit?
Rather than bogging down your pitch email with multi-media and an overload of information, add a link to your press kit. Your press kit should basically be a one-stop shop for a journalist who wants to write about your company, and it should include:
-Company overview – the history/ ethics/ mission etc
-Biographies – CEO/founders/line-up of the must-know people
-FAQS – Here you have the space to define yourself as a company, and explain what makes you stand out from other companies
-News coverage – include recent press releases
If you can tick all of these boxes, and your product or service is the best that it can be, then you can finally make the step out into the unknown and contact journalists, and start planning the launch party!