When Writing a Product Launch Press Release Aim to Sell More Than Just Your Product – Sell Your Story
The first rule when it comes to writing a product launch press release is: Don’t just talk about your product. This is what most companies get wrong. They focus so hard on conveying key facts about their product that they completely forget about selling their story.
Tens of thousands of products are launched every day, which means journalists are bombarded by product launch press releases and pitches all the time. Simply listing the specifications of your product won’t cut it.
This begs the question: how do you write a press release about a product without focusing on the product? The key is to create a narrative that’s so compelling, the journalist who’s reading your press release can’t help but feature it.
5 Steps to Writing Your Product Launch Press Release
1. Gather Your Input
How do you get the material for your press release? Simple – interview your sources! Speak to key personnel such as your sales director or product manager, and possibly external stakeholders such as customers and vendors. Ask Who, What, Where, When, Why and How questions to get a clear picture of the news at hand.
2. Determine Your Key Messages
Ideally, everyone who reads your press release should gain a few insights and takeaways. It’s your job to determine your key messages and convey them clearly and succinctly.
Not sure what your key messages should be? Sit down with your sources, and ask them these four questions:
What does your product help your audience achieve?
Make sure your readers understand why your product is valuable to them! This press release about Johnson & Johnson’s new contact lens, for example, states that the lens provides wearers with “vision correction”, and that it “continuously balance(s) the amount of light entering the eye.”
Johnson & Johnson also goes on to explain that their contact lenses help the human eye manage varying intensities of brightness throughout the day, so that consumers don’t have to squint, shield their eyes or dim the lights in harsh lighting environments. The clearer your benefit is, the higher your chances of getting media coverage and eventually winning over new customers.
What problems are you trying to solve with your product?
Why should readers even care about the benefits offered by your product? This question brings us to one of the most important ingredients of any product press release: the problem you’re trying to solve for customers. If your product can alleviate a pertinent, pressing and widespread problem, that’s half the battle won.
In tackling the problem of stress, Chicago startup Breathe with B developed a pocket-sized mindfulness device which helps folks lower their stress levels through mindful breathing. According to its press release, the company analyzes users’ breathing data and suggests routines to help them improve their breathing habits and reduce stress. In your press release, do like Breathe with B, and highlight how your product can solve your consumers’ problems. Even better: use research data to back up the significance of this problem and why it needs to be solved as soon as possible.
What are the product features that will solve the above problems?
Now that you’ve established the ‘why’ of your product, the next step is to explain how your product will deliver these benefits and solve these problems. Don’t overdo it. At the end of the day, a product’s feature is meaningless unless you explain its relevance, and share how it alleviates your consumers’ problems.
An example: Bolthouse Farms recently launched Plant Protein Milk. In their press release, they stated that their “milk” is vegan, non-GMO and doesn’t contain allergens such as dairy, nuts, soy, lactose and gluten. This solves the problem of consumers not having access to protein-rich, allergy-free milk.
What does this new product say about your overall product portfolio and company strategy?
To build your brand, make sure that your press release ties your product into your overall company strategy, and drums up interest about your company.
How do you do this? Take a leaf out of L’Oreal Paris’s book. Upon launching their Makeup Genius app, which allows consumers to try makeup on virtually, the company issued a press release that explains how the app was developed by their “Connected Beauty Incubator” in the company’s innovation lab.
While incubators are typically used in the context of Silicon Valley tech companies, L’Oreal’s Incubator refers to a 26-person team which “operates like a startup”, and focuses solely on innovation. This adds legitimacy to L’Oreal, sets them apart from their competition, and provides a great angle for reporters who might want to pick up the story: L’Oreal is unique and involved in cutting-edge research usually left to technology startups.
3. Zero in on Your Target Audience
You need to be laser-focused on who your target audience is, so ask yourself who you’re writing the release for — and why you want them to know about the product. Understand your audience’s pains, their frustrations, and their innermost desires — and then use this information to craft your press release.
The Boppy Teething Scarf, for instance, targets mothers who have teething babies. The press release bills the 2-in-1 teether accessory and infinity scarf as a “new solution in teething”, and features an image of a glowing mother with a baby who’s biting on the teething ring attached to her scarf.
When crafting your press release, it’s also helpful to think about what kind of media your target audience consumes — and where they gather. Women who are most likely to use a Boppy Teething Scarf might follow mommy bloggers, or parenting magazines. In writing your press release, be sure to frame it in a way that will appeal to these publications.
4. Find Your News Hook
This step is all about making your press release compelling. But before we delve into news hooks, let’s discuss what makes news. Apart from having to be, well, new, news also has to be surprising, unique and relevant to your target audience.
Bearing this in mind, superlatives are a great news hook. If you can sell your product with a superlative (meaning it’s either the biggest, smallest, fastest, slowest or first), this means your product is unique, which makes it that much more newsworthy.
Take The Bonsai Urn, for example, which is a first-of-its-kind ceramic urn that offers families a new way to memorialize their loved ones. According to the press release, their patent-pending growing system, coupled with a loved one’s ashes lovingly mixed with soil, provides the ideal growing environment for the Bonsai tree to thrive.
Other than being a great candidate for the superlative news hook, The Bonsai Urn also plays nicely into the trends news hook, which is where businesses tie their products in with a hot new trend. The Bonsai Urn’s press release states that almost half of adults in the US are now choosing to be cremated. These two news hooks help journalists understand why they should care about this news, particularly right now.
News Hooks are the most powerful when you lead with them, and highlight them early on in your press release. If you can incorporate your News Hook into your headline, even better!
The press release for this ergonomically designed paring knife, for example, nails it with the title “Safecut Launches First Knife with Built-In Thumb-Protector to Prevent Cuts”. There’s a compelling and newsworthy superlative in the title and this problem-solving device will entice readers to check out the rest of the press release.
But superlatives are only one type of news hook. You can use a trend, a local angle, conflict or a human interest angle as a news hook.
All that’s left to do is to get behind your computer and start writing your press release. This should contain the following elements:
- Headline: this has to be short and succinct, yet contain enough information so that readers can understand what your press release is about. Your news hook should go here.
- Lead paragraph: this is where your most important facts and input should go and it should expand on your headline.
- The body of your press release: in this section, put the news into context, and explain why readers should care.
- Conclusion: wrap things up with a call to action. Do you want your readers to click through to your website? Or check out your product in retail stores? Also, don’t forget to include your contact details for reporters who might want to reach out for more information.
A final word on writing product launch press releases
We can’t emphasize this enough – the worst thing you can do with a product launch press release is to go down the rabbit hole of listing a thousand specifications (which don’t mean anything to journalists). Think of how Apple did it back when they released their iPod: “1000 songs in your pocket.” This is much more effective and newsworthy than bragging about 5GB of memory.
If you haven’t already realized, this actually ties back into the second question: What problems are you trying to solve with this product? With the iPod, Apple solves the problem of people not being able to carry all of their music around with them. Interestingly enough, despite the iPod being a game-changing product, Apple didn’t milk the “first of its kind” angle. They didn’t need to because their “1000 songs” slogan was sufficiently powerful on its own.
Apple cleverly ticked a lot of the boxes that we’ve highlighted on our list.
Many business owners assume that writing a product launch press release is pretty straightforward, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A word of caution: if you simply churn out a press release without determining your key messages and identifying your news hook, it will be an exercise in futility. If you craft your press release strategically, you could potentially use this as a tool to gain widespread exposure for your brand, and catapult your company into the spotlight.
Alex Armitage is co-founder of Publiqly, whose step-by-step systems help small and medium-sized companies write press releases that journalists and bloggers can’t ignore. If you want to learn more about the press release writing approach outlined in this blog, download our free step-by-step PDF guide here.