Editorial/Press Release - What are some points to consider while writing?

Subject: Editorial/Press Release - What are some points to consider while writing?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 02 Nov 2005 11:55:57 -0500


Jennifer Bennett wondered: <<I will be writing an editorial/press release for a software application. I have not written one before, and I am interested in finding out what points need to be considered before and while writing. I have written the help system and user manual for this application, so I am very familiar with the application.>>

The first thing you need to do is forget your familiarity with the application and place yourself firmly in the sticky shoes of the reader, who probably doesn't know much (if anything) about your application and probably could care less. Why should they want to read this? What points will catch their interest and get them to read beyond the first sentence?

Start with those points. Answer the "why should I read this?" question first, then go into more detail once you've got them hooked--most important details first, and specifically what makes your product different from all the other "me too" products. People who receive press releases receive _many_ of them, and may not bother to read right through to the end. Keep it short and sweet; that focuses you on what is truly important. And to the extent possible, avoid marketing buzzwords. Say clearly what you mean; don't rely on jargon to carry the weight of what you're saying. Be refreshingly different!

Also note that most press releases I've seen look like they were typed in Courier Obsolete <g> using an ancient and rather distressed manual typewriter, then photocopied repeatedly onto flimsy telegraph paper that holds toner poorly. The authors have clearly never heard of modern typography, white space, and headings. If you want to stand out from the crowd, use some of your skills to make the press release really readable: a good serif font for the body text, appropriate line lengths and spacing, appropriate use of headings, and so on. Make it stand out from the rest of the <ahem> crap, but without tarting up the presentation so much it provokes the skeptical response: think clean, clear, readable.

<<I think a couple of important questions to ask would be "How familiar are the readers with the product or similar products?" and "What method/software do the typical potential customers currently use?">>

Audience is always important, and if you think you may have multiple audiences, you may need to consider different press releases. For example, the uber-geek subject area expert on this type of product working for PC Magazine will clearly want different information than the clueless purchasing manager at a small company (but possibly the same information as the cluefull purchasing manager at that company <g>).

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
www.geoff-hart.com
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References:
RE: Implementing a glossary: From: Dan Goldstein
Editorial/Press Release - What are some points to consider while writing?: From: Jennifer C. Bennett

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