For PR professionals, writing about consumer technology products presents a unique challenge. Technology is inherently, well, technical. Selling points typically focus on “specs”—things like speed, size, image resolution, sampling rates and other number-heavy facts that are generally uninteresting (if not completely incomprehensible) to all but the most avid gear-heads.
So how does one convey to a journalist or blogger why a particular device is worth writing about, without resorting to an eye-glazing litany of gigabytes, megapixels and milliseconds?
The key to writing a great tech pitch or press release is zeroing in on the benefits of a piece of hardware or software. Cool features are fine, but what most consumers care about is what those features can do for them. How they make their lives easier, more productive or more fun.
With that in mind, here are a few techniques for writing a consumer tech pitch that will make a reporter or blogger sit up and take notice.
Stay on target: As always, look for ways to tailor your writing to the subject matter or target audience of the outlet you’re pitching. For instance, if it’s a mommy blog, think about ways the product or service could improve life for a married mother or her family. If it’s a business magazine, emphasize how it could be used to, for example, enhance a reader’s career, improve corporate efficiency or make business travel more pleasant.
Focus on what’s new: A mind-boggling number of new products come onto the market every day. Many of them—flat-screen TVs, for example—are pretty similar and offer many of the same features. Few journalists can keep track of which bells and whistles are groundbreaking and which are old hat. Make sure to point out—honestly—any innovations your product or service is introducing and why they’re significant.
Paint a picture: Most of us don’t know how crisp a 1024 x 480 display is, or how many baby pictures a terabyte of memory can hold. So instead of just rattling off the numbers from a product’s spec sheet, make it more relatable by offering a concrete comparison. For instance, instead of saying a camera measures 2½” x 3½” by ¾”, say it’s the size of a deck of cards. Instead of saying a tablet has a battery life of seven hours, say it can be used non-stop on a car ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Compare and contrast: Using familiar products as benchmarks offers a quick way to convey a technological advance. Phrases such as “holds twice as many songs as an iPod Touch,” “costs half as much to operate as a traditional incandescent light bulb” or “generates 20% more electricity per square foot than competing solar cells,” illustrate in a few words how a gadget improves on existing technology.
Solve a problem: Technology is most compelling when it provides a solution to a common problem. That might mean something as life-changing as an insulin pump for diabetics, or as trivial as a front-facing cell phone camera for self-obsessed teenagers. Either way, the point is to focus on the needs and desires of the humans who will use the product, not just the whiz-bang features of the product itself.
Keep these ideas in mind next time you have to write a consumer technology pitch or press release. They might just turn out to be the solution you’re looking for.
Andrew Hindes is a seasoned PR copywriter and the president of The In-House Writer, which provides PR writing workshops for public relations firms and corporate communications departments. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @inhousewriter.