When to Distribute a Press Release vs. Emailing Reporters: 14 Questions to Determine Newsworthiness


A marketing colleague asked us a question. They have some news about a tech startup, and wanted to know if we thought they should issue a release or email reporters about the news.

Without providing us with any background on the nature of the announcement or the content they would email to reporters.

While we’ve worked with them before on a couple of different accounts, we’re not currently working on this client so we had no context to even begin to provide some advice.

So we developed a set of questions to help our colleague make decision about the next steps.

Since this is not the only time we’ve been asked this sort of question — with no real information to go on — we thought it might be worthwhile to share those questions:

  1.  What sort of news do you have? For example, are you launching a product or announcing a customer or the close of funding?
  2. What’s the outcome you’re looking for? To raise awareness among possible customers/decision makers? VCs?
  3. Who are your customers? Consumers? SMBs? Enterprise?
  4. Who is your client competing against? Have those companies recently issued news? Can your client credibly respond to or provide insight about the competitor’s news, the category, etc.?

What we received in response was a marketing document that explained the problem facing the client’s prospective customers.

The client does want to raise awareness with reporters but, the marketing document, which does do a good job in explaining the client’s general approach and the customers’ general needs/concerns, didn’t include information that would enable reporters to write about the company.

So we developed a second set of questions to help guide our marketing colleague to help the client. (Please keep in mind that we would likely need similar help if a client of ours asked us to handle a marketing assignment. This is really to make this point: it’s important to ask for help or to refer clients to a team that focuses and specializes in the specific area.)

Here is a look at some of the things reporters want to know in order to write about a new startup:

  1. What’s being announced, including the product name?
  2. How is it different from what’s currently on the market?
  3. When will it be available?
  4. Who’s it for – as in customers?
  5. What’s the advantage of your solution over your competitors?
  6. What’s the cost for the solution? If it’s by subscription, can customers buy it on a monthly basis or is it available only on an annual basis?
  7. What’s involved/needed for the solution to be effective?
  8. Who’s behind the company – like the CEO or CTO and the team’s expertise? In other words, what makes this a credible offering? What’s their prior experience and relevant expertise?
  9. How much money have they raised? What kind of quantifiable numbers can you share? (The more specific you can be, the better.)
  10. Why should reporters write about the client at all or even right now?

Another way to look at these questions is that they’re trying to help organizations determine the newsworthiness of what they’ve got. Even if you have a good relationship with a reporter, that reporter will still need a story, and these questions can help determine whether or not you have a story.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments.

Tagged: , , , ,

Related Posts