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Press release pointers.

PRESS RELEASE POINTERS "Hundreds of hardware and software companies build their product announcment strategy around a press release that they send to a big media list," says John Pearce, founder of the MediaMap research service. "This great mailing of paper is the PR centerpiece of their product announcement--and the beginning of the end in their faith in public relations."

Press releases often end up in the trash, Pearce says, because product promoters fail to see announcements as "the end of a months-long process." To make sure that process yields effective results, Pearce recently recommended a few guidelines:

* Alert the infrastructure. Well before a formal announcement date, says Pearce, a company's top management should go on the road to offer sneak previews of their product (under nondisclosure) to analysts, editors, key customers, and other opinion-leaders. "The impact of a press release is insignificant compared to the impact of an articulate, informed, energetic company executive."

* Create targeted releases. "Reseller publications should get your reseller message, technical books your technical message, end user-oriented columnists your end user message, etc."

* Watch your timing. Because computer weeklies are so influential, Pearce points out that it's important to schedule press release mailings so that the weeklies have plenty of time to react. "In general, time arrival for Monday or Tuesday to make deadlines for weeklies (which close Thursday or Friday)."

* Follow up intelligently. "Never say 'did you get my release?'" Pearce says. Instead, offer "substantive help" (such as graphics, customer names for interviews, analyst referrals, and market data) that's tailored to the specific publication's audience. "And avoid use of uninformed staff to contact media--a bad spokesperson is a bargain you cannot afford."

* Analyze the coverage. "The first obvious indicator of the success of a product announcement is the resulting press coverage," says Pearce. An inexpensive way to track such coverage is to hire a clipping service, which typically costs about $200/month. "Note who in the media community likes and understands your product, and whom you want to target for special contact and additional work."
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Publication:Soft-Letter
Date:Jan 10, 1990
Words:339
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