UK Tech PR » Software The blogging home of Hill & Knowlton's UK Technology practice. We write about technology and how to shape conversations about technology in the market. Fri, 12 Mar 2010 12:41:17 +0000 en hourly 1 How to PR the point release (1.0) Wed, 17 Feb 2010 19:14:55 +0000 James Farquharson Most software companies were founded by a small group of young, talented programmers with an idea to do something great with what they knew how to do. Regardless of the recruitment of accountants and marketers, at heart, almost all software companies retain the founder’s engineering culture. Which is why, when a development team completes a minor modification to the company’s software (fixing a few known bugs and refining some features) a directive will often float down to PR instructing, it to, ‘get coverage for our point release’. If you’re on the receiving end, you might be interested in our five tips for point release PR success.

1. Do they know something you don’t?

As soon as you find out about the impending point release launch, arrange a meeting with product engineering and have them explain its benefits. There is always a chance that your understanding of the release is not complete. After your conversation you may find that what you thought were tweaks will actually, ‘transform the user experience’ and develop, ‘a new paradigm in software functionality’, which makes much more sense in PR terms than, ‘Has a new drop down menu.’

2. Unlock its ‘infotainment’ value

Next, consider how far the benefits of the point release will take you in terms of coverage. Is the point release so revolutionary, of itself, that the national press will be interested? Will the bug fixes and upgraded features guarantee in-depth coverage in all your key trades and verticals? The chances are that if you just list the features and fixes, even your fans in the trade press will struggle to cover your news.

Before setting out to secure coverage, it’s important to recognise that we, as well as journalists, are in the entertainment business. Your point release launch needs to be customised to ‘entertain’ the audience of the publications you’re targeting, at the same time as delivering its key messages.

3. Provide feedback

If you understand the product and have thrown everything at creating an angle that will work for the readers of the publications your management expects to see coverage in, and still don’t think you’ll get coverage, tell them and tell them why. They know JavaScript. You’re the PR expert: be strong.

4. Write the best release you’ve ever written

If ever there’s a time to write a brilliant press release, it’s when the news definitely won’t sell itself. Writing a release helps to refine the presentation and test the value of news before taking it to the media. However, a release is just one tool that a PR uses to secure coverage.

Knowing your key publications and the journalists, as well as ensuring that they are aware of you and your company’s relevance before you go to them with your news, is key to explaining why your point release launch should be of interest to the title’s readers. Securing coverage does not start and end with the approval of a press release.

5. The lure of free press release posting sites

If stage three, ‘provide feedback’, didn’t go so well and you really have to produce coverage, you may be tempted to post the release onto some of these sites. If you only do this, you will save journalists from having to delete your ‘not quite right’ news, be able to report hundreds of pieces of syndicated ‘coverage’, and at the same time assist your company’s SEO strategy. However, the ‘coverage’ is unlikely to be read by any of the potential customers or market influencers your management wants to reach. If your story isn’t a story, better to avoid these sites altogether and focus your attention on stages 1-4.

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