Top Ten Tips for Writing a
Shareware Press Release
by Al Harberg
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
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
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
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