Software Marketing Resource Articles: Top Ten Tips for Writing a Shareware Press Release

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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Top Ten Tips for Writing a Shareware Press Release

Sending press releases to computer editors is still the most cost-effective way to promote your shareware. Here are some tips that will increase your chances of getting your press release published:

10. Talk about your program and your trial version, but don't use the term "shareware". To the magazines, shareware is software published by companies that don't buy ad space. All magazines will tell you that there is a wall between their editorial and sales departments, and that the editors don't think about your becoming an advertiser when they're deciding which press releases to print. Some walls are stronger than others. Don't mention shareware in your press release.

9. Spend a lot of time writing your tag line. Editors usually need a tag line to serve as the title of your press release. If you write a good one, they'll use it. Often your tag line will jump out at you as you're writing the press release. Sometimes your tag line can be lifted directly from your web site, or from the program descriptions that you've written for the download sites. Make it short and snappy. Being descriptive is usually better than being clever.

8. Telephone only those editors whom you consider to be friends. Before you send them your press release, if you call editors who are strangers, you're going to annoy them because they don't have the information they need to carry on an intelligent conversation with you. If you call them after you've sent the press release, and ask them if they've gotten it, read it, and are going to print it, you're going to annoy them even more. Your press release must be a stand-alone document that tells your entire story. Telephones are for ordering pizza.

7. Tell the editors where they can find you. It's okay to work in an office. It's okay to work on your kitchen table. It's not okay to work in your car. If the editors don't even know what country your company is based in, they're not going to tell their readers about your software. You need to give them more than your e-mail address and url. It's best to include a full postal address and a daytime phone number (even if it's connected to an answering machine).

6. Focus on a single product. If you have light, standard, and pro versions of a program, put all of the emphasis on the product that you expect to generate the most profit, and briefly mention the others in a single sentence at the end of the press release. If you have two unrelated programs, write two separate press releases.

5. Write simple copy. Organize your thoughts before you start writing. Begin by writing an outline of the key items you need to cover (tag line, introduction, key features, contact information). When you write your press release, pretend you're talking to a friend. Use common words to make simple sentences. Vary the sentence structure by including a few second-person sentences. Write in the active voice.

4. Write tight copy. Never repeat yourself by saying the same words, over and over, redundantly. All things being equal, eliminate meaningless cliches.

3. Send press release copy, not an operations manual. You only have a few sentences to tell your story. If you find yourself describing what happens when you press F3, then you're moving down the wrong track.

2. Send the editors press release copy, not ad copy. If you hype your software, the editors won't print it. They're not going to say that your software is the greatest or the fastest or the most powerful program in its class. And they're not going to say that it has set a new paradigm. If you include this kind of writing in your press release, the editors will rewrite it (very unlikely) or trash it. Sales hype is perfectly appropriate on your web site, but it won't work in your press releases.

1. Send press releases! The reason the computer magazine editors wrote about your competitors' new software is because your competitors sent their press releases to the magazines. Editorial space is free. Now is a good time to write your press release and send it to the editors.

article provided by DP Directory

since 1984, Al Harberg has been president of DP Directory, Inc., a marketing firm dedicated to helping software authors bring their programs to market. You can visit Al on


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