PR/Marketing Writing Tips Archives

create effective pitch deckOf the hundreds of pitch decks I’ve seen as a trade press editor, too many left me waiting until slide 26 for a clue about the company’s value proposition, or even a clear description of their product or service. That’s because their creators were too focused on their own approach to the market, and too little on what the reader needs to know.

Here are five ways to focus your decks on each class of reader so you’re sure they’ve gotten your message.

Tune the Problem Statement

Except where the reader (such as an investor) is truly new to a field, summarize the problem statement quickly and move on. Don’t make a chief information security officer sit through a list of headlines about recent breaches,  or a development manager listen to statistics about software failure rates. Instead, describe the three to five specific pain points you do the best job of solving. (In security, for example, it might in the range of threats you track. In development, it might be the speed or quality of your testing.) Then quickly move on to how you solve these problems. But as you do…

Differentiate Constantly

Too often, what passes for differentiation is a generic statement of end results (“We deliver true enterprise-wide protection against the threats facing your business.”) Instead, explain clearly and consistently what makes you different and better than the competitors. Insist that the notes section of every slide include at least one sentence beginning with the words “Unlike our competitors…”  and don’t rest until you can finish that sentence in a clear, convincing way. If any of your capabilities are “me-toos” acknowledge that and explain how you focused your development efforts on excelling in the areas customers care the most about.

Customize More Carefully

You probably already have variations of your deck for customers, for analysts/media, and  for investors. But from what I’ve seen these decks are often not fine-tuned closely enough, or provide the required level of detail,  for each audience.

For example:

  • Customers probably need far more specifics about pricing and delivery/bundling options than analysts/media or investors.
  • Analysts/media, on the other hand, probably want more of a focus on your competitive positioning and the details of how you achieve it. The more quickly you can get them to that place, the sooner you can begin explaining in detail where you excel.
  • Investors need far more detail about the founder’s backgrounds, long-term product, partnership and IPO plans than other audiences need – or that you want to share. They’ll also need more information about other funders and how much control they have over hiring or product decisions.
  • Along with the same competitive positioning and technical background as analysts, media outlets need good quotes and snappy descriptions of your product, service or differentiation.

Context, context, context!

You know how big a deal it was to wrangle that vague endorsement from an analyst or the brilliance of your API strategy chart – but the reader doesn’t. To provide the context readers need, avoid:

  • General statements of goodness from analysts that describe your solution as “comprehensive” or “innovative.” Instead, press them for quotes that describe your differentiation and tie it back to business benefits.
  • “Eye chart” slides describing your technical architecture, integration with other technologies or partners without explaining why the reader should care. .
  • Bare lists of customer logos. Prove these weren’t just proofs of concepts or one-off projects that never resulted in a follow-on sale. Describe the business benefits you delivered to each, and the unique capabilities that helped you deliver them.
  • Bare lists of brand name partners. Show how each partnership is resulting in added sales for you and the partner, and the benefits to your joint customers. If the partnership is too new for results but shows promise, explain that.
  • Headshots and canned bios of your leadership team. Instead, explain how their previous accomplishments will deliver for the target audience. (“XXX’s experience at Apple’s App Store will help us build the critical mass of developers we need with a revenue sharing model that works for them and us.”)

Translate for Mere Mortals

Define and explain every technical term in layman’s terms, even briefly, the first time you use it. Marketers often push back on this and tell me “The people we’re targeting will understand this.” Many will, but some will just nod knowingly without a clue because they don’t want to look dumb in front of others – and they just might be the key decision maker. Use these brief explainers to hammer home the business benefits, (“Our pre built Python libraries include the code required for common analyses of adverse drug reactions. This cuts the time required to build the statistical models our health care clients need by 50 percent…”)

The common challenge here — and it’s a big one — is looking at your pitch deck from the perspective of an outsider who doesn’t live and breath your business strategy every day. If you can’t hire an outside PR firm or marketing agency for a fresh look, run your deck past your most recent hire or freshest intern. If they don’t quickly “get” your message, you’ve got more work to do.

Three Post Covid (?) Cloud Marketing Tips    

cloud marketing challengesAs we bob between COVID waves, many cloud marketers are trying to figure out how to reach prospects in an ever less predictable business climate. Differentiation is difficult with everyone playing a variation on themes such as:

  • Pandemic lockdowns have sped a shift to remote working and the “digitization” (whatever that means) of business.
  • The cloud is now the default choice for most new applications and workloads.
  • Most businesses are already running on multiple public and private clouds.

Beneath these “me-too” messages are questions which, if you can answer them, can raise your visibility and show clients you deserve their consideration. Three examples:

1) Managing the Cloud Right

Running apps and infrastructure in the cloud is less expensive than in those outmoded internal data centers – until it’s not.  It’s too easy for business units to quickly spin up cloud instances to support new applications, processes and AI experiments but fail to shut them down when they’re no longer needed. That  can be not only hugely expensive but risky if the cloud servers and data aren’t properly secured.

Your opportunity: Describe not only the best tools for finding, assessing and disabling unneeded cloud resources, but the messy political and process changes such control requires. Who gets to decide, for example, when a machine learning model has generated most of the insights it can and no longer deserves funding? How should you adjust IT cost chargeback processes when shifting from internally controlled data centers to internal and external clouds? How can businesses cost-affordably track the complex pricing methodologies of multiple cloud providers?

2) Keeping My Best People

Whatever it is that’s tempting folks to jump jobs post-COVID, it’s hitting IT companies hard. I’m hearing of attrition rates in the 30-40 percent range, with a hot job market giving IT and marketing professionals the freedom to jump ship if they’re not happy about anything from pay to their boss or their job satisfaction.

Your opportunity: Be brave enough to share candid, “in the trenches” experiences and tips exploring areas such as:

How many people are leaving not just for more pay but for better working conditions, more interesting work or even a more ethical corporate mission? What can their managers do to keep them on board even if (as is usually the case) that manager can only control their immediate work environment?

What are the warning signs top contributors are getting ready to jump ship? Is it their ominous silence in meetings, rolling their eyes when a pet project is delayed (yet again) due to conflicting corporate priorities, or they’re repeatedly pointing out how often competitors are executing on ideas they had suggested to you?

After you use these danger signs to identify the “flight risks” how do you keep those employees on board without going broke with pay raises? For example: Ensuring top talent knows their manager lobbied for funding for their pet projects; improved communication about the status of stalled projects; or retraining for employees or the problem managers who have driven many employees away. 

3)  Managing Cloud Vendor Lock

For years customers have tried to balance the advantages of “best of breed” technology from individual vendors against the financial and technical risks of being locked into that vendor’s product and upgrade cycles. Some argue the financial clout and technical breadth of the major hyperscalers make this question irrelevant. According to this thinking, the top players are all “close enough” in areas like AI, containerization and development tools  that you can safely place a strategic bet on one and reap the benefit of economies of scale and easier cost tracking.

Your opportunity: There’s plenty of room to argue either way – or even encourage debate. Build  credibility and drive engagement by basing your argument on real world experience with specific technologies and business cases. For example:

  • If you opt for multiple cloud vendors, does the cost and complexity of a single cross-cloud visibility and management platform outweigh the advantages of using multiple clouds?
  • Compare the capabilities of each hyperscaler in a specific technical area (say, AI or quantum computing). This should not be an ad for your preferred partner but an honest comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each hyperscaler, advising which technical or business use cases they’re best suited for.
  • Do a similar comparison by industries and provide detailed enough advice to show your expertise. Rather than give one hyperscaler a good mark on generic manufacturing, tell the reader which has the best tools for process vs. discrete manufacturing. If you’re talking life sciences, tell the reader which hyperscaler or software as a service provider has the best tools for clinical vs. marketing processes.

What burning questions cloud or pandemic-related issues did I leave out? Building security and compliance into the cloud? Melding DevOps and Agile with cloud deployments? Deciding which legacy apps are too complex, risky or big to deploy to the cloud? And how are you helping clients answer them?

I hope you’re healthy and holding up well in the COVID-19 lockdown and seeing the same demand I’m seeing for COVID-19 product messaging. Having been around the block with a number of such projects, here are nine tips for making such messaging work best.

Go easy on the “We hope you’re safe and the health of our employees and customers” boilerplate. It’s nice to know but we’ve all heard it multiple times. And in the end, this is business, not family.

Don’t hyper ventilate and make every challenge (like the security of home Wi-Fi networks) into a life or death emergency. If there are quick and easy fixes (such as remote configuration of users’ systems) it’s enough to point out this is a good time to implement them.

Don’t “virus wash” every trend. If customers should move to the cloud for better supply chain tracking during the pandemic, this is (as with Wi-Fi___33 security) a continuation of an existing trend, not a revolutionary insight. Skip the breathlessness and describe, in practical and actionable terms, how to achieve this in the unique circumstances of a pandemic.

Don’t publish until you’re sure you’re saying something different and useful.  Review the “state of the art” of COVID-19 messaging in your industry to ensure you’re not repeating well-known statistics and self-evident advice.

Go deep on details when there is a genuine new or more significant risk. One example is relocating workers who deal with very sensitive data from your office to  their homes. What specifically must customers do to secure everything from their internal networks and servers and employees’ home networks?

Be practical. If you’re recommending, for example, employees use headsets for sensitive conversations (so children, roommates or spouses don’t hear both sides of the conversation) do you supply headsets or let employees buy those most comfortable for them? How do you enforce compliance?

Cite real world examples to prove you’re talking to actual customers. Don’t make a vague reference to  “manufacturing supply chain issues. ” instead describe how a lack of a specific buffering compound from a plant in n Wuhan, China, closed an ibuprofen plant in Spain and caused empty shelves in St. Louis.

Describe non-technical challenges specific to the pandemic, such as the difficulty of getting executive attention (and budget) for needed long-term improvements when the business is crashing around them. Then explain how you helped meet the challenge.

Describe the hypothetical success of, for example a data management or AI or collaboration platform that could be useful in the COVID-19 world but that you haven’t sold for that purpose yet. But make sure you can deliver what you promise.

In short, be specific; say something new and useful, go short on the happy talk and long on your value-add.

And stay healthy!

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Five Ways Storytelling Goes Bad

Wherever you go in the content marketing industry, people are talking about brand storytelling.   You have to tell stories to get customers emotionally involved in your brand. The human mind is intrinsically geared to hearing and understanding stories.

Hey, I’m all for storytelling. When my clients go on about how they digitally “transform” this or that, I harass them for real-world examples – stories, if you will — to explain what they’re doing.  When they give me a cookie-cutter, jargon-filled case study to word-smith, I push back for more details on the business challenges and the internal implementation headaches that will bring their work to life.

But in each of those examples, I use stories to illustrate a wider theme or broader truth. When we use stories to trivialize, to distract, to pander or to cover up, we’re cheapening our profession and pulling the wool over our reader’s eyes. Is that we went into this profession for?

How might story-telling hoodwink a reader, either intentionally or not? Stick with me for a sec for an example from the pharmaceutical rather than the IT industry.

Yes, We Price Gouge, But Our People Are Nice

Consider these two audio spots I heard within ten minutes the other day on NPR:

The first described allegations that drug companies vastly overstate the cost of drug development to justify higher drug prices and greater profits.

The second was a promotional notice from an NPR donor – a drug company — inviting listeners to hear stories about how their employees volunteer their time to help their communities.

Which story is more emotionally engaging? The feel-good piece about the volunteers. Which is easier to tell? The feel-good piece about the volunteers. Which drive more positive views of the drug company? The feel-good piece about the volunteers.

But that volunteer story describes dozens or maybe hundreds of volunteers doing individual good works. Unless the drug company is giving them paid time off to volunteer, it’s not really about the drug company at all. The second story involves billions of dollars and whether hundreds of millions of people get the health care they need.

So you tell me. Which story is more important?

Where Storytelling Goes Bad

Story telling is essential because it grabs viewers and listeners emotionally. But it gets in the way when it:

  1. Describes only anecdotes while ignoring systematic root causes. You can always, for example, find a student from a failed family and lousy school who made it into Harvard. But that doesn’t mean poor schools and chaotic home lives don’t holding many more students back. A corrupt mortgage broker could tell lots of good stories about the nice people who work for them. But that doesn’t compare with the human loss caused by systemic abuses such as weak underwriting, corrupt lenders, and too-loose credit.
  2. Conflates a one-time event with real change. At the recent Content Marketing World Kate Santore, who heads up integrated marketing content for Coca-Cola, played a 2013 ad showing Coke kiosks encouraging person to person contacts  between citizens of nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan. The spot is beautiful and even inspirational. But did it make a lasting difference in how those people felt, thought or acted?
  3. Appeals to the emotion at the expense of clear thinking. Check out this light-hearted ad from Cisco claiming the ideal Valentine’s Day gift is an ASR 9000 Series Aggregation Services Router. I can see this working for top of the funnel “awareness” of a product, but will it convince either a system administrator to recommend it, or a CIO or CFO to approve the purchase?
  4. Doesn’t reflect the company’s true value or role. You have to praise Coke’s diversity-boosting Super Bowl ad this year as at least taking a stand on a controversial subject. But at the end of the day, is Coke’s mission showing “what unites us is stronger than what divides us” or selling beverages for a profit?
  5.  Doesn’t tell the customer what they need to make a purchase decision. At Content Marketing World, I overheard one speaker enthusing over how a post on a bank Web site about watching an eclipse out-performed traditional content such as, he sneered, “stories about the interest rate on credit cards.” Maybe it’s just me, but I want to hear about my bank’s interest rates.

Wherever I turn, I see “storytellers” trying to distract me with anecdotal, emotion-filled messages when what I need are facts. If we’re selling big-ticket IT solutions, we need to make sure “stories” support the message but don’t overwhelm it.

Thoughts?how story telling goes bad

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

How to write a PR pitchA few months ago I offered some tips for ensuring emailed comments will make it into reporters’ stories. They include making sure your client answered the reporter’s questions (!), explained buzzwords and didn’t cite third-party sources that need further checking.

But what does a “good” response to a reporter’s question look like? I just happen to have an example — a piece I did for Computerworld analyzing how “software-defined everything” (IT infrastructure created and controlled by software) will affect outsourcing.

In my request for pitches, I specifically asked for sources to discuss:

  • How the rise in “software-defined everything” is affecting customers, especially their outsourcing plans.
  • How SDE affects which applications, workloads or business processes customers outsource.
  • Specific, actionable recommendations about which applications or workloads are best or least suited to “software-defined” environments?
  • And other trends customers should be aware of.

Fail #1: The Purely Self-Serving Pitch

“Bob. The movement toward IT outsourcing has spawned the (SDE) market. Service providers need to be able to customize their networks and deliver policy-based networking in order to meet customer demand, and (SDE) provides that capability. **** can comment on the role of (SDE) in enabling IT outsourcing…”

Did the PR pro explain how his client could answer my questions? No. Did he promise his client would talk about anything except how great his product or service was? No. Did I interview his client? No.

Fail #2: The Kinda Self-Serving Pitch

“****, CTO and co-founder of ****, a provider of Network Security as a Service, can talk about why he feels SD-WAN, in particular, is a short-sighted approach to solve network connectivity issues. For example, (he) argues that the cost of deploying SD-WAN to manage MPLS/Internet traffic would be better spent cracking the “middle mile” challenge. Further, (he) believes that a software-based approach to networking and security will make it easier and more cost-effective to manage.”

Again, this response tells me much more about what the client wants to promote (Network Security as a Service) than answering my questions. In the very last sentence, the pitch begins to touch on what I’m writing about, but doesn’t make the direct link to outsourcing I need. Again, I passed.

Success #1!: Answers

Hi, Bob.

The below response is from ****, co-chair of the ****. Let me know if this is along the lines of what you were looking for and if you would like to connect…

1) How the rise of “software-defined everything” is affecting customers’ IT plans in general, and their outsourcing strategies in particular. Response: Enterprise IT leaders see (SDE) as a core part of their strategy to reduce cost and improve agility improvement strategy. Every CIO is now examining if a cloud-first, partner-first approach is the best for their organization.

2) How “software-defined everything” affects which applications, workloads or business processes customers are outsourcing? Response: When application infrastructure is software based it becomes much easier to have supply chain and outsourcing partners take over tasks.  SDE opens the door for nearly every enterprise function to be outsourced.

3) Specific, actionable recommendations about which applications or workloads are most or least suited to “software-defined” environments. Response: Most Fortune 500s have legacy apps whose cost to port to a new infrastructure would be very high.  In those specific cases it’s better to port the data to a new cloud app.

4) And, of course, what upcoming trends or market developments customers should be on the lookout for. Response: One of the most exciting areas…is Software Defined Perimeter (SDP).  SDP allows enterprise to distribute workloads globally yet maintain full access control to applications, data and infrastructure for employees and partners.  Subsequently SDP enables SDE to happen.

I wound up interviewing this client, who turned out to be a key source for my story. Not only did he show he could address the questions, the specificity of his answers told me a phone conversation would be time well spent. He even introduced a new topic (software defined perimeter) that I hadn’t paid enough attention to before.

Next time a reporter asks for sources for a story, ask them for three or four sample questions, and make sure your client can answer them. If not, push back with hard questions until they do have something to say. If they don’t, tell them to pass on the interview – or at least not be shocked if they don’t wind up being quoted.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Nailing Quotes for Reporters

editorial calendarsCongratulations – a reporter has agreed to interview one of your clients for a story. The bad news: Your client suddenly got too busy for an interview, but will answer emailed questions.

You probably review your client’s answers before passing them on to the reporter. But based on my recent experience, some PR pros aren’t looking for the right things – or not looking closely enough.

Check this “to-do” list to maximize your client’s chances of being quoted.

Did they actually answer the question?

You’d be amazed (or maybe not) at how many answers aren’t really answers. They’re discussions, musings, self-evident problem statements or thinly disguised marketing claims. Real answers have a “yes,” “no” or clearly defined “It all depends” statement.

If I ask “Is cloud computing safe for medical records?” don’t tell me “The safety of patient information in the cloud is an issue any responsible enterprise will need to consider carefully.” Instead, give me examples of how to tell when it is or isn’t safe, or examples of safe/unsafe data.

Did you spell out all acronyms and explain all terms?

One recent response said “(IT) automation has the inherent risk of creating a `black box’.”  It never described what the client meant by “black box” or what the risk is. I have a pretty good idea what they meant, but in an email (unlike an interview) I can’t easily clarify it. If I need to start another email thread to ask, under deadline, it cuts your chances of being quoted.

The same goes for acronyms, as in: “CNCF and other communities provide reference architectures…” If you told me this was “the Cloud Native Computing Foundation” an open source standards effort” I’d be much more likely to include it.

Did you attribute the response to a specific person with a title, not an amorphous organization?

Editors insist their reporter’s quote people, especially for in-depth, advice-oriented features.

Did you spell check the reply?

I know auto correct makes stupid mistakes, and that your client is in a rush. But sloppy grammar errors make me doubt the rest of the response as well.

Did you provide a three to six word description of your client so the writer can position them in the story?

Make sure these are short and specify whether your client sells hardware, software or services. Think “cloud security services provider” or “Salesforce configuration services provider.” Avoid vague, marketing-driven statements like “Acme Solutions helps enterprises worldwide maximize the value of their sales teams.”

Did you avoid stories, quotes, or examples from third parties?

“A 2016 Gartner report (quoted in InfoWorld) showed demand for data scientists will rise 20.7 per cent per year between 2016 and 2020.” This forces me to check if your client got the number right and if I or they have the right to reuse that figure. I also can’t quote a report in a competing publication. Better approach: Provide a link to only publicly accessible reports so I can cite them accurately, easily and with confidence.

Did you edit for clarity and conciseness?

Not everything has to be a super sound bite, but help your client by crisping up their writing. Here’s one example from Eric Turnquist, senior director of information technology at network monitoring and it management vendor Ipswitch, (not a client of mine.) My question was whether system administrators are still needed in a world of DevOps (combining development and operations to speed applications to market.)

“Traditional systems administrator skills will still be needed. There’s usually tribal knowledge around legacy systems – people that know the old systems because they were here when they were built – that is tough to replace. Everything hasn’t been completely migrated from those old systems…now you’re stuck with it and need folks with traditional skills to use that technology, or to finish migrating from it. Knowledge of traditional systems and the skills to use them will always be in demand for this reason.”

Do you review your clients’ responses to emailed reporters’ questions? If you push back for better answers, do they listen?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

When to Stop Nagging and Other PR Questions

how to pitch editors and bloggersWhat is the best way to pitch a writer – by phone or email? When should I stop calling to ask if you’ve seen my pitch? How much editorial control do vendors exercise over custom content sites?

Those were among the questions I got at a recent lunchtime talk at a Boston-area PR firm. I was invited to describe how I operate, as a blogger and free-lance writer, and how PR pros can work most effectively with folks like me.

For all of you who weren’t there for the pizza and my presentation (which you can download here,  complete with samples of PR pitches done right and wrong), here’s a synopsis:

Q: When is the best time to contact you with a pitch?

Q: There are no good or bad times, as my work schedule is completely unpredictable. Since I don’t cover a beat for a trade publication, or have a regular story submission schedule, there are no regular “deadlines” to work around. On the other hand, I often go from calm to overbooked within hours. What’s more important than the timing is the form of a pitch. (See question below.)

Q: What is the best way to contact you – email or phone?

A: Email. Phone calls are an intrusive interruption, no matter what I’m working on. Given the low likelihood a pitch will turn into an interview or, much less, a story the interruption usually isn’t worth my time, or, frankly, that of the PR person.

Q: What kind of story idea pitches are you interested in?

A: Right now, none. When I write for trade publications (click here to subscribe to my email update on such stories) it’s always based on an assignment from them. Pitching stories isn’t something I typically do, as it requires a lot of up-front work with an uncertain likelihood of a return. For other writers, though, that might not be the case. A quick email asking if they’re open to such story idea pitches, and what areas they’re most interested in, could be worthwhile.

Having said that, some vendor-sponsored sites such as TechBeacon (sponsored by HP Enterprise) ask writers to come up with a steady stream of story pitches in a specific area such as security or DevOps. The difference here is that the Web site promises a regular stream of work, as long as the writer does a good enough job pitching. To get your sources exposure on these sites, treat them like a trade pub: Monitor what your target editor and others are writing about on the site and pitch accordingly. If these sites offer a handy “trending” or “what’s popular” list all the better, as that shows you the topics the editors will want more coverage of.

Q: How much editorial control does the vendor have over a site they sponsor?

A: This varies based on the site and whether the aim is to generate high-level visibility and thought leadership or to generate short-term leads. In my experience, most vendors downplay their sponsorship and hire IT trade press veterans to run the site. They want the site to look and feel more like a trade pub than a marketing site, tracking what stories visitors read to generate profiles and score them as leads.

Q: How do we pitch ideas or sources to editors of such sites?

A: First, make sure your idea or source can provide information that is original, detailed and timely (download my content quality control check list here). Then, make sure your source isn’t a direct competitor of the site sponsor, or that their messaging doesn’t contradict that of the vendor. You wouldn’t want to, for example, pitch a story about the continued value of tape storage to a vendor that just dumped their tape business.

The good news: Some complementary vendors are featured regularly in such sites (see one example here.) If in doubt, this is one time where a detailed, specific query to the site editor is worthwhile and shows you’re doing your homework.

Q:  I emailed you a pitch and you didn’t respond. How often should I call to check for a response?

A: This was the toughest question and one where I was caught in a lie. My immediate response was “Don’t call or email me again – if I’m interested I’ll call you.”  But one of the PR pros reminded me that sometimes such nudges have reminded me of a good idea I overlooked at first glance, or of a source I didn’t need when first pitched but can use as my deadline looms.

Bottom line advice: If you really think your idea or source is strong, limit the nudging to one email per week, focusing specifically on why you think it’s a good fit and asking what, if anything, could make it stronger. Then it’s in the editor’s hands to be courteous enough to at least respond.

Even if we can’t do lunch, email me your questions about best PR practices (or anything else) and I’ll answer them in a future post.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

No Contact Info? Then Don’t Do a Press Release

how to write a press release There’s a one-sentence error that almost guarantees an editor, blogger or other influencer won’t call for more information, a chat with your CEO or enough details to write about your latest  announcement.

And I’m seeing more and more vendors making this mistake all the time.

The mistake is not in a sentence they include in the press release, but a sentence they leave out.

The missing info is, believe it or not, the name, phone number and email of a person to contact for more information.

Company to Press: Drop Dead?

PR and marketing folks are probably skipping this “For more information….” line because “press” is thought of as old-fashioned or downright obsolete, with bloggers and social media providing the faster path to awareness. Many companies are also cutting back on internal or external PR to save money and figure any calls aren’t worth their time.

Judging from the requests I keep getting for product and company briefings, I “press” exposure is still important. If you don’t agree, why go to the time and trouble of doing a press release at all? If the aim is to get people to notice you and write/blog/Tweet/podcast about you, why wouldn’t you want to make it as easy as possible for them to talk to you?

Even worse is, often, the lack of any easy to find press contact info on company Web sites. More and more, I need to drill deep into the general “Contact Us” page and even go through a drop-down list to find the “press contact” option. The harder you make it for a writer or editor to contact you, the more likely they’ll click through to a competitor who is easier to work with.

Your Real Readers

Remember also that the “press” has expanded far beyond full-time reporters working for name-brand trade or general interest pubs. For example, I’m doing a series for a vendor-sponsored Web site aimed at developers. It’s run by a former trade press editor, the methodology and sourcing are almost identical to common practice on trade pubs, and the stories are informational and objective, not vendor sales puffery.

For the sources I interview for such stories (such as recruiters and Web sites offering salary benchmarks) I’d bet the coverage on this site is just as valuable as if I were writing for a trade pub. It might even be more valuable, as it’s in the vendor’s interest to aggressively promote the content to the target audience. In any case, they seem happy with the links I’ve sent and are lining up to cooperate on future stories.

Given all that, I’m at a loss for why anyone would issue a press release without contact information. Any clues? And check out these other tips for beefing up your press releases.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.
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