How to Launch with Press and PR

We’re working towards a launch moment for Parallax with press and media, and, wow, I didn’t realize how much of this world is unknown to outsiders.

It felt a bit like fundraising again - there’s a small game to be played or unspoken etiquette to follow, but one may not have known if not for whispers from insiders.

Here’s me sharing what I learned (and am still learning) from various blog posts from founders and journalists, calls with the marketing and PR folks, and lessons learned along the way.

Why press? What goals?

  • Press of launch day itself is NOT success. It should lead to a larger goal besides itself.
  • PR is not scalable. Use it as a booster to accelerate other customer marketing (content, outbound, ads, SEO) or other goals (hiring, investors).
  • The launch day can also be an external deadline or forcing function to ship and align the team. Deadlines force progress.
Our goals at Parallax: We wanted this to feed into increased credibility and trust (especially as a fintech app) and our long-term SEO strategy. We were literally getting asks from (potential) users saying, “Hey, I like your offer but you seem like a scam because I can’t Google anything about you!”

Two Strategies: Exclusive vs. Embargo Strategy

  1. Exclusive: one reporter breaks the news
    • Pro: Increases chances of coverage as reporters are more likely to write about you if they are promised the story.
    • Con: Less wider coverage.
      • PR firms often recommend this because they are incentivized to get you some coverage, not max.
  2. Embargo: asks reporters to hold story until embargo date
    1. Pro: Gets you wider coverage with more outlets, ideally.
    2. Con: High risk; you also may get nothing at all if your story is not captivating enough.

Choose the one that best fits your goals.

What Parallax did: An exclusive strategy. We wanted at least 1 article from reputable US media outlets, guaranteed, that then led to pickups from local news reporters in our target market.

Prep & Timeline

  • Buffer about ~4w before a press release.
  • What to prep?
    1. Write the pitch and story + create the media brief / press kit (1w)
    2. Reach out to reporters and get their commitment (1.5 - 2w depending on their responses)
    3. Prep for amplification on launch day itself, sending messages to friends of your company, customers, investors and making it easy for them to amplify your launch (1w)
What Parallax’ timeline looked like: [to be added when released]

To PR Firm or Not to PR Firm?

  • ✅ Someone else handles it completely. PR can take up a lot of time
  • ✅ Know what to do. Have done this in the past
  • ❌ No built personal relationship with reporters
  • ❌ Can be expensive
  • ❌ Sometimes reporters want to hear from founders or CEOs directly
What Parallax did: We ran our own process, as we couldn’t justify the % cost of hiring a separate PR firm (and still needing to take the time to manage them!). We kept it very focused and timebox-ed. Now we have relationships & learnings for the future and for others!


  • What makes a pitch compelling:
    • The fact that you exists = NOT news
    • TIME news to be RELEVANT to today
    • Interesting founder stories or inception stories
    • Relevant for that particular reporter to pick up
  • Stand out through 1) entertainment (e.g. founder stories; 2) value (e.g. good advice to readers)
    • OK: “Acme raised funding”
    • Better: “Here’s the deck Acme used to raise in a bear market” / “Founder takes lessons learned from failed startup to build Acme”
  • Pulley: coupled funding announcement with launch of free plan for startups. They knew macro was tough so needed to help founders raising.
What Parallax did: [to be added when released]

Press Kit

  • Content:
    1. About the Company
    2. Story or Key Information
    3. FAQs for Reporters
    4. Quotes & Testimonials (from investors, from customers)
    5. Links
      1. Website or app
      2. Link to blog post announcement or press release
      3. Previous press about the startup (if any)
    6. Images: shots of logos, product & founder.
      • Cover photos of people get more clicks.
      • Direct links to web-ready logo
      • Should be setup for dimensions of the publication
    7. Contact Information
    8. Pulley’s template
  • Don’t send as an attachment - send as plain text or a link out!
    • Turns out, attachments on email are a big pain for reporters, if they got a load of pitches daily! That’s A LOT of memory. Be considerate.
What Parallax’ press kit looked like: [to be added when released]

Reporter First Outreach

  • The best: Build a relationship
    • As with anything, building a good relationship is always best
    • If PR/media is core to your strategy, best to send them info about your industry or beats that help them with their stories, even before you need PR.
  • How to find emails of reporters?
    1. Start with network - investors + others founders who were covered are usually good sources
    2. Scale to outbound if exhausted. Usually they publish their emails in their author pages or LinkedIn.
    3. Think the more important question here is: How do you find the right reporters to send the email to? Answer: DYOR (do your own research!)

  • To keep in mind:
    • BUSY! Bombarded with several pitches daily, need to write their own stories pitched to them prior, have other deadlines they are going through
    • Incentivized by interesting AND timely news
    • Reporters like exclusives more than embargo, if you have the ability to offer this.
  • To do’s and not to do’s
    • Research research research! You need to make sure you’re pitching to the right media outlet and to the right reporter in that outlet.
    • Skip the mass email - personalize it!
    • Conversations are better than > press releases. Be open to a call with them.
    • Be thankful they even responded. They don’t owe you anything.
    • If they write about you, build a relationship. Keep talking to them even after!
    • Consider: create BUZZ or your own news before the pitch
    • Do not ask permission. JUST DO IT.
      • Bad: “Hey Mike, can I send you a press release?” #FAIL
    • Be brief! Make it easy for them to understand your pitch.
    • Try to pitch in person. If not, add personality (include pictures/video)
  • Suggestions for content:
    • One/two line email: “Hey _, we’re doing X next week. Are you interested?”
    • Mike Butcher’s ideal pitch:
    • image
  • Good vs bad stories
  • image
Examples of Parallax’ pitches: [to be added once released]

Amplification on Launch Day

  • Risks + Mitigation: make a list of everything that can go wrong and do a dry run
    • Test signups and onboarding
    • Check landing page on mobile
    • Prepare for 10x signups
  • Prep for the BEST CASE — your launch goes viral
  • Make it easy to amplify
    • Tell your investors, customers, friends, and family a week prior and a day prior to be ready to help amplify the launch.
    • Include blurbs so people can copy/paste their own
  • Be focused on which post to amplify. Have 1 particular post (on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to drive amplification towards. Don’t spread TOO thin across several.
Examples of Parallax’ amplification asks: [to be added once released]