This morning when I received a request for a 1-hour press briefing I realized so many companies do not follow the “inverted pyramid” rule of journalism. Instead of presenting the key information at the start of the briefing, they instead start with a company overview, discussion of the opportunities for…(insert: small size, less power, faster, less expensive, more capabilities, etc.), a broad-brush overview of a product family, and so on. By the time the briefer gets to the meat of an announcement, I’ve started to get bored. Perhaps a new technical writer or journalist needs this background information, but people who have covered an industry for a year or two usually don’t. In your next newsletter you might suggest companies and PR people limit briefings to 30 minutes plus time for a few questions. They should dive right into the product or technology announcement and offer the background information as supplementary PowerPoint slides or email attachments. As Jack Webb’s character Sergeant Joe Friday used to say in the TV detective drama, “All we want are the facts, m’am.” That’s good to remember for briefers, too.
All too often when I get follow-up information for a briefing, the briefer or PR contact forget to send photos, or diagrams. Photos or images should come among the attachments. And if someone has photos in a PowerPoint presentation, by all means, PR people should have those images available, too. Many times PR people tell me, “Well we don’t have that photo for you.” Why not? Someone took the photo! I learned in school that a picture is worth 1000 words. So, just by including an image with press materials, companies could get the equivalent of 1000 words of ink. I don’t understand why getting images is sometimes so painful. An image archive on company Web sites would help, too. When I write a column or blog, companies that make images readily available often get more coverage than those that don’t because I can describe important product characteristics and relate them to an image.