re: reviewer's guide

Subject: re: reviewer's guide
From: Christi Carew <christi -at- sageinst -dot- COM>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 14:37:33 -0700

>Jennifer Collins is working on a "reviewer's guide", which is
><<a guide to be sent along with the product to journalists and
>outside analysts so they can judge our software.>>

Then Geoff Hart wrote:
>That doesn't sound like the right term to me. What you're talking
>about is either a marketing brochure (if you're trying to tell them
>what to think about your product and how to think about it) or a
>white paper (if you're providing background information and context
>to help them evaluate your product). If you're specifically targeting
>journalists, it might also be a "press release". It might even be a
>fact sheet if it primarily provides technical specifications.

So I am writing:

Actually, at one of my former employers, a reviewer's guide was pretty much
just what Jennifer defined it as. It was a document sent to journalists who
were going to review the product.
At the time, the doc was written by the PR dept. and I simply edited it.
I'm trying to recall (it's been a while) exactly what went in it.

One of the more important aspects was to point out new features. And not
just in a marketing-way, but in a somewhat more technical way. The
reviewers were usually pretty familiar with the platform and how to
navigate basic software. And if it was a new version of an already released
product, the reviewers usually had some experience with the previous version.

Jennifer Collins continued to write:
><<what can you tell me about this audience? what do they expect
>to find in such a guide?>>

Geoff Hart responded:
>First off, most of them (journalists in particular) aren't going to like
>it much if you tell them what to do. So you should aim your writing
>as something that helps them do _their_ job. If you can define what
>each different type of person's job is, then you can figure out what
>information you need to give them.

I think what's usually provided is information about the benefits of the
product (yes, that's marketing), the important features (marketing, but in
a functional way), functions (extremely brief reference guide type info),
and comparisions to other products.
While you are hyping the product, they aren't buyers. You don't have it to
sell it to them in the same way as an ad. But you do have to make them
realize the benefits of the product. I think of it as a little less
technical than a white paper, but not full-blown marketese.
Now that I think more about it, I think this also depends a little on the
type of product. Is it hardware? Software? Is it really complex? Is it
pretty straight forward? Is it for general consumers? Or for a specific
niche (e.g., sys admins)? All of this would contribute to determing exactly
how marketing or technical to get and at what level.
You might also look at some reviews of products from some of the people
you'll be sending the guide to. That might help you figure out what they
might be looking for. And look at reviews of competing products.

That's my cupela cents.


Christi Carew
Technical Writer

christi -at- sageinst -dot- com
p. 831-761-6565
f. 831-761-2452

Sage Instruments
240 Airport Blvd.
Freedom, CA 95019

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