Skolelinux / Debian Edu Howto
This document guides persons who want to make a press statement also known as a press release in the Debian Edu project.
Please read the excellent Care and Feeding of the Press from the donkey's mouth.
A press statement presents what's new. The most important news are put first, where more detailed product information, contact info goes last.
A press release provides reporters with the basics they need to develop a news story. They cherry pick what they think is newsworthy for their audience, and publish that.
Write the press release for our target audience. With Skolelinux teachers, schools CTO's, headmaster and decitions makers are the target audience.
A press statement is positive and easy to read. Try to omit abbreviation. If those are included, write the full text first, then use the abbreviation.
Emphasise how the new features solves users needs and successes since last release.
Associate our product with successful use by others. If a poll shows that Debian is the most used server system in Germany, mention that. If Debian is used in other successful products as Maemo or Ubuntu. Tell that. This builds confidence by persons who hasn't heard about Skolelinux, and that's a big majority.
It's allowed to put in some weak spots too. E.g that some thing needs improvement. One example is that we need more work on translations. When this is read by a potential contributor, that person get motivated, and joins the project and translates what's missing.
Pleas add full contact info with phone numbers to reach you. If a journalist thinks the press statement is, they call and do an interview. Then you have to let everything else go, and concentrate 100% on the journalists questions. Please answer truthfully as possible, in well behaved and positive way.
When a release is eminent, the press statement shall be posted right after the final release note have been posted on the Debian Edu developer list. This goes for minor releases too.
When the release is announced to be done, contacting journalists starts at agreed time. Then it's not possible to re-write parts of the statement or stop the press.
It's smart to start writing the news items in a press statement 3-4 months before a major release, and 3-4 weeks befor a minor release. This to evolve the whole community at large to add their news items.
Different media, different targets
News with might seem minor or not worth mentioning, could be the most important news for a teacher or an decition maker when reading about Skolelinux. Sveral Skolelinux contributors got extensive experience with end user expectations. Use that insigt when adding news items.
It's also tech press and community news sites. Then you can include news cowering both bases. This might be a more lengthy statement, since Skolelinux often got much more news to present, compared to just another distro release. The reason is that Skolelinux contains more services and software installed by default, and got 2-3 year release cycles.
What to expect
The community are full of illiterate persons regarding working with media. They got no other experience with the media than being consumers. It's similar to being a developer. For most people it take years of training and participation before and user becomes an able developer. It's the same when working with the press.
Being a good developer does not mean you know a lot about media and vice versa. People who know both worlds, are a scare commodity. Those people are often quoted in the media. This is because they're able to explain or simplify technology in a way which make non-technical audience interested.
It's not a clear cut perfect way. It's not one process to follow which make everyone happy. It's also possible to write several press releases, targeting a different audience. E.g Linux Weekly News just take a copy of our release announcement, and copy it directly in their daily news track. A computer magazine might sherry pick bullets, paragraphs and quotes from the press release.
It's many ways to write a press statement. Also there are considerable differences in which target audience you want to reach, and what journalists picks up.
Styling might differ. In United States they expect use a more bullet like presentation of features. Where in Europe they might prefer paragraphs.
Hope for the good, prepare for the worst
You put the best news first, with almost no introduction what so ever. It's the first law in the press. New first. Later you elaborate on what's new in detail.
The part where you say something about your product or your organisation comes to the end. Press articles mostly work the opposite direction of a news article. In a report conclusions comes last. In news "conclusions" comes first. The content should include this bullets in roughly the suggested order:
- Short intro of the news, including some news highlights.
- Picture(s) and link to screen shots and downloads
- List the news, the most important first. Bullets is totally OK and easy to do for developers. Usually one liners is good, but also three-four sentences might work.
- Two-three motivating paragraphs with successful use of our product,
- About Skolelinux
- Contact info
- Links to download