Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Improving Press Releases

A lot of press releases cross my inbox. Some good. Some bad. Some with major errors, some with improper formatting, even some with no mention of the company of origin. Though writing a press release may not seem important to you, or something that you should spend a lot of time on, it's a very effective way to announce what's going on with your company and products.

Based upon what I've seen recently, I've put together a list of how to improve your press releases.

1. Avoid jargon. If you are talking about something really technical it might make sense to explain it because not everyone will know what you are talking about. This is especially important for the members of the press since they might not be well versed in your product.

2. Use full and complete sentences.

3. Don't use abbreviations (i.e. RB or RS instead of REAL Studio). Some people might not be familiar with the abbreviation, so better play it safe and use the full word.

4. Make sure that somewhere in your press release you explain why the reader should care. In other words, what is the significance of your announcement. For example, if you are talking about a new feature don't just list it - elaborate.

5. Don't ask a question and then answer it in the same paragraph or start a sentence with "and." This is a place for more formal writing.

6. Make sure the date on your press release is correct. I've seen some recently that have the wrong year. You want your readers to know your press release is current.

7. Avoid puns and double meanings.

8. Stick to the facts. This is not the time to try to make a joke or tell a personal story.

9. Always remember to have someone proofread your press release. Sometimes you are too close to the draft to catch errors, so it's always best to have someone review it once just for good measure.

10. Avoid using the passive voice, use active voice. For example, don't say "An email was sent by me." Say "I sent an email."

One final recommendation is to not be shy about soliciting reviews. Reach out to bloggers and various media publications, give them free copies of your application and encourage them to write a review. Make sure to add them and anyone you want to write about you to your announcements list so they receive your press release.

If you have any questions about press releases feel free to ask. If you want to have your press release posted to the Announcements section of the REAL Software Forum, send it to me at


Pharaoh Atem said...

Maybe REAL Software should take your advice. A few weeks ago, Bryan Lunduke said in his live video stream that when he requested a review copy of REAL Studio, he couldn't get one.

REAL Software said...

I think you might be mistaken. I have received no such request but he does have a current license.

TJ said...

One additional point -

If you want to get your content published, keep the length below two printed pages and provide a single, simple "executive summary" paragraph that an editor can "borrow" directly.

If you have too many words and make editors work to publish your announcement in the limited column-inches provided for non-ad product announcements, you reduce the probability that your release will see that editor's print sheet.

Web-based magazines, unlike what many seem to believe, still prefer to limit the number of words in any given issue - primarily because the average reader has a very short attention span.

Of all the rest of Geoff's comments, spelling and proper sentence flow are THE most important considerations for pickup. If the editor can't read your release, you've lost the shot immediately.