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The lowdown on press releases

by: Romany Howes (7 August 2008)

Writing a product press release is not the hardest task in the world but it takes effort and time. It doesn’t matter what the subject is but the meaning has to be clear. Describing a product in depth takes a certain amount of skill – put in too much description and the reader gets bored, don’t put in enough and the reader gets confused. There has to be a happy balance between the two.

First of all, read all the product literature … and then read it again. If you have little knowledge of the product subject matter, then make as many notes as you can about the product and, vitally, make sure that you understand it yourself. If you have a vast knowledge of the subject, then imagine that you are trying to explain it to someone else. Also, check who will be reading the release. Is it going to the general public or to a more specialised market who will better understand a more technical glossary? As a rule of thumb, do not use technical terms that you have to look up in the dictionary.

Start by giving a brief introduction to the product and its context. Where will the product be used? What is it used for? Avoid puffy words like the plague: ‘innovative’, ‘unique’, ‘revolutionary’ are big no-nos. Make it simple to start with – you can put it into more product detail later, once the reader is hooked onto the concept.

Then continue with a brief explanation of the company behind the product – what has been their success in the market place so far? If it is a new company, briefly outline their plans and aspirations.

Then you can go into more detail if necessary about the product, including why it has been launched. NEVER insult the competition – that is rude, unnecessary and generally seen by every editor as unprofessional. If your product is good, then it should stand up against competition on its own.

Finally, check spelling and grammar and then re-check it. There is nothing more unprofessional than a press release that has spelling mistakes. Now, give it to someone who knows nothing about the product and get them to read it. If it makes sense to them, then it will make sense to the general public.

And don’t forget to put your company details, contact name and telephone number at the end.

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