Creating a Press Release
Press releases are an essential tool for companies seeking to establish their brands and credibility in the market. Regardless of your startup stage, the ability to craft a compelling press release is vital for capturing media attention. In this guide, we will explore the art of creating press releases and funding announcements that effectively communicate and differentiate your message from the competition.
When to Create a Press Release
Press releases should be developed whenever your organization has a meaningful story to tell and seeks attention from the press.
They serve as a concise, one-page source that collects all relevant information for a media story and, when done effectively, are specifically crafted to encourage media outlets to report on them. By leveraging press releases, you can effectively communicate your company’s message and drive media coverage in your favor.
Types of Press Releases
There are multiple types of press releases, including the following:
Goal: Increase visibility and attract top talent.
- Getting to gigatonnes with our $13m Series A
- beehiiv Raises $12.5M Series A led by Lightspeed Venture Partners
- Aledade Secures $260 Million Series F Financing Round to Expand and Enhance Services for its Nationwide Network of Primary Care Practices
Goal: Control product information and generate excitement.
- Airbnb 2023 Summer Release: Introducing Airbnb Rooms, an all-new take on the original Airbnb
- Samsung Introduces SeeColors Mode on 2023 TV and Monitor Lineup To Enhance Experience for Color Blind Users
- Nike Introduces Phantom Luna, the Company’s Most Thoughtful Women’s Led Football Boot
Goal: Promote public and private events, including clear calls to action.
- McDonald’s USA Convenes Top Asian Pacific American Thought Leaders for First-Ever College Education Summit Aimed at Helping APA Students Map Out Their Career Success
- Apple Battersea opens in London’s historic Battersea Power Station
- Disney ABC Television Group Launches “Choose Kindness” Campaign in Support of National Bullying Prevention Month
Goal: Change the company’s image and positioning.
- Starbucks Celebrates 40 Years of Great Coffee with New Look, New Global Products, and a Tribute to Customers, Partners and Community
- We’re redesigning the Uber App just for you
- Nielsen Unveils New Brand Identity Reflecting Company's Transformation and Focus on the Global Future of Media
Goal: Highlight new leadership, partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions.
- One Medical Joins Amazon to Make It Easier for People to Get and Stay Healthier
- Christine McCarthy To Step Down As Disney’s Chief Financial Officer; Kevin Lansberry Will Assume Role Of Interim CFO
- Megan Cacace joins Airbnb as Director of Anti-Discrimination Policy & Equity
Goal: Boost your company's reputation and credibility.
- McCann New York Wins Agency of the Year at the 25th Annual Webby Awards
- NASA Awards SpaceX Second Contract Option for Artemis Moon Landing
- Today Show Wins Peabody Institutional Award
Goal: Announce difficult news without emotional language.
- Facebook Faces Antitrust Lawsuit from Federal Trade Commission
- EPA Announces Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments
- Gordon Moore, Intel Co-Founder, Dies at 94
Press Release Structure
When structuring a press release, it’s important to convey the most relevant information effectively and provide context for readers. Focus on addressing the most important facts:
- Who is this story about?
- What is this story about?
- Where is it going on?
- When will it occur?
- Why is it important?
- What do you want readers to know?
Additional details about structure can be found in the following chapter on funding rounds.
Press Release Dos and Don’ts
When writing a press release, following traditional guidelines is best.
Distributing a Press Release
Lightspeed has a well-established partnership with Business Wire, an industry-leading distribution service. If interested, we can connect you with our dedicated account manager, who can assist you throughout the process and maximize your potential coverage.
In addition to Business Wire, we recommend utilizing distribution resources like Global Newswire and/or PR Newswire. These platforms are known for their ability to reach relevant audiences and can enhance the impact of your press release.
Announcing a Funding Round
Securing funding is a pivotal milestone for any company that signals validation, credibility, and potential to make a significant impact on the market. Because you’ll likely need to create a funding announcement, it’s crucial to know how to announce your funding round that engages the media effectively.
Timing Your Funding Announcement
Consider the following factors when timing your funding announcement:
Evaluate the current market conditions and industry trends. Is there positive sentiment and favorable market dynamics that could enhance the reception of your funding news?
Analyze the competitive landscape and monitor the activities of other companies in your industry. Consider timing your funding announcement strategically to differentiate your news from similar announcements or to leverage industry events for greater visibility.
Ensure that your internal teams are ready to handle the implications of the funding announcement. This includes aligning your messaging, preparing spokespeople, and having the necessary infrastructure in place to support increased visibility and inquiries.
Funding Announcement Structure
A funding announcement should be between 500 and 1500 words, detailing your funding round and the momentum behind the round. Here’s a recommended structure:
Keep your headline between 70-120 characters, including spaces. You can use this format for funding announcements, "[Company] Raises [X Funding] [Funding Stage] to [Benefit Statement].”
Provide additional details to frame the main announcement.
[Date of the announcement]
State how much your company raised and the funding stage. List investors leading the round, followed by other participating investors.
5. Company Background
State the company mission and the founding team, and describe how your company plans to utilize the funds and highlight key initiatives or projects the funding will support.
6. Validation from Company Leader + Investors
Include a statement from a company leader expressing enthusiasm and optimism for the new funding round. Additionally, you can include quotes from investors that explain why they find the company exciting, highlight the capabilities of the executive team, and/or mention the momentum in the market.
7. Board Members Paragraph (optional)
Include a section listing new executives, board members, or team members associated with your company, showcasing their expertise and industry credibility.
8. Growth and Momentum Paragraph
Highlight impressive growth metrics or specify the momentum your company has created in the market so far.
9. Contact Information
Provide contact information for media or press inquiries.
Funding Announcement Best Practices
There are key practices that can significantly enhance the impact and reception of your announcement.
Proofread and Edit
Thoroughly revise your funding announcement to ensure accuracy, clarity, and professionalism.
Monitor and Respond
Keep track of media coverage and social media discussions about your funding announcement. You can use a simple spreadsheet to ensure you’re promptly responding to inquiries, comments, and feedback.
Amplify Your Press Release
To amplify your own press release, consider utilizing your company's social media channels to share the announcement and engage with your audience as well as leveraging your own network to spread the news.
Additional Documents and Assets
In addition to the press release, consider sharing assets like company logos, product images, and supporting visuals such as infographics or charts to visually represent your brand. Offering additional background materials like a company fact sheet or frequently asked questions (FAQ) document can also provide deeper insights into the funding round, ensuring accurate and impactful coverage.
Working with the Media
When preparing your press release or funding announcement, it's essential to consider how you will engage with the media. In some cases, you’ll want to share an early look at your announcement under embargo, and in other cases, you may reach out to reporters after your announcement is live. Regardless, it’s critical to make sure you’re prepared.
For information about how to craft a compelling storyline for media interviews, checkout our Storytelling post here.
Media interviews provide an opportunity to amplify your release or funding round and engage with journalists. By anticipating and preparing for potential questions, you can confidently deliver your message and maintain control of the narrative.
To help you navigate these interviews, here are some common questions you should be ready to answer related to your company and/or funding:
General Media Questions
- What is your company? Philosophically, why did you want to build it?
- What's your story? What were you doing before this? What made you qualified to start this company?
- How did you come up with the idea? What problem were you trying to solve?
- What is your funding situation? How much have you raised, and from who?
- How did you get connected to Lightspeed?
- What's your headcount?
- How did you build out your solution to the problem? What are the main features/functionality of the product?
- How do you make money? How do you sustainably achieve growth?
- How many active users do you have? Any other core metrics around revenue / growth / retention?
- What causes people to stop using your product/service?
- What's your competition from the status quo, direct competitors, and incumbents in the space who could enter the market?
- How are you differentiated from them in product and target market? Why are you better?
- What are the next steps for the company? What will you spend the raised money on?
- What is the biggest risk for the company? What is most likely to make you fail?
- What adjacent markets could the business eventually enter to grow even bigger?
- What exactly is the news? What are you launching? When and where / on what platforms?
- Can you tell me more about the technology behind the games? Anything new or innovative?
- What else should I know? What else do you want readers to know?
- Can you provide visual materials beyond headshots and logos? Ideally, splashy, eye-catching imagery that could work as a featured image with a landscape ratio of 1 tall x 1.85 wide. Landing page imagery, screenshots, product photos, diagrams, charts, illustrations, and other branding imagery are all helpful.
Financing Round Questions
- What’s the company’s backstory (very briefly)? Why was it founded, and by whom?
- How much of the investment is equity versus debt? What’s the company’s valuation (can attribute this to "a source familiar with the matter" if need be)?
- What does this round bring its total raised to? What is the new money for – and why was now the time to raise it? What products, features, and expansions will it help to fund?
- Any notable/luminary investors or VCs you'd like to highlight? Please include a unique quote from one of them explaining why they believe in (1) the market and (2) your particular company, as well as (3) why they believe now is the right time to invest.
- How many employees does the company have? How many does it expect to have by the end of the year?
- What’s the company’s annual recurring revenue? Projected annual recurring revenue? Gross margin profile? Operating cash flow results?
- How many customers does the company have? How many users?
- Who are the company’s competitors? How are you different or better?
- How does the product/service work? Is it widely available?
- What is the company's privacy/data retention policy (in brief)? Does it store user data, and if so, for how long? Can users delete this stored data, and how is the data used?
- If applicable: Which are the major new product features/items of corporate news you’d like to highlight since the last funding round?
- Is there anything novel about the technology?
- What are key, major challenges that the company’s industry faces?
- How has the pandemic affected business? What about the broader slowdown in tech – how is the company positioned to weather potential headwinds?
- What’s your burn rate?
- What time and date does the embargo lift (PT or ET)?
Final Tips for Success
As you prepare for your interview, keep these tips in mind to ensure a successful and impactful conversation:
- This is your opportunity to shine. Be selfish with it, and don't share it with others. Don’t talk about competitors.
- Have a game plan and faithfully execute that plan. Don’t let the interviewer lead the show.
- Stay focused on your gravitational center. Don’t wait to be teed up for your big points, and don't repeat negative language.
- Always have a backup or alternative message/ analogy to illustrate your point.
- Brevity is key! Once you have said everything in your column, stop talking.
- If the reporter is asking you a negative question, do not nod your head as you’re listening to the question. This can be viewed as agreeing with the negative statement.
- More is never more.
- Don’t put words in anyone else's mouth.
- Don’t fall for traps laid by the interviewer. Use exit lane statements to get back to the column in the message grid that you want to address.
- As soon as you realize what the question will be about, use the remaining time while the interviewer is talking to recall your talking points on your grid.