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Subject[OT] Re: Press release - here we go again!
[Apologies in advance for polluting the linux-kernel with this, but I felt 
that Mr. Stone's interesting contribution deserved a response from "the
other side" -- and that my response may have an impact on the people
providing the source information, namely the kernel developers.]

As a working journalist, founding member of the Internet Press Guild, and a
kernel hacker, I thought that I should inject my pair-o-pennies(tm) into
the discussion of any Press Release.

First, look at, the IPG "Care
and Feeding of the Press" for tips and guidelines on how to get a press
released noticed by the Internet-beat journalist.

When writing the press release, you need to keep the following things in mind:

1) KEEP IT SHORT. Journalists will throw out press releases that, when
printed double-spaced on standard 8.5x11 paper, exceed 1.5 pages of
text. Not everything is of equal importance or "gee-whiz-ness". Pick two
or three major features to punch, and then provide a URL for the rest. I
strongly suggest that Alex and Linus caucus and determine what the "top
features" should be in such an announcement.

2) Be careful about who you say is the source. While Linus is well-known
as the "father of Linux" we need to avoid overloading him by making him the
focus of press questions. This is especially true when you consider the
next point...

3) There MUST be a press contact for questions and follow-up. A press
contact consists of a name and a telephone number -- a mail address just
won't work. Further, that person had better be able to work both East and
West coast time. It's a big job. In your suggested release, there is no
place for the hapless and clueless journalist to even begin to get
information so that s/he can begin meaningful research. Please remember
that story pitches (the proposal by a reporter that something be covered)
get perhaps 10-15 minutes of time; this is because a journalist may pitch
20-30 stories and only write 3 of them.

5) Even better would be to obtain the services of a PR firm used to
dealing with high-tech questions -- if you would like a list of potential
sponsors I can poll the IPG to see who might be likely candidates. Off the
top of my head, I would recommend Pam Alexander, Hastings & Humbolt, Marty
Winston, and S&S.

6) Prepare for your press contact(s) a FAQ sheet -- this could be a
compendium of existing FAQs, but it should also include the "stupid"
questions that a newbie will think of that no sane FAQ maintainer would
include. This should be as inclusive as possible. The FAQ should be made
available online as well. I'll go on a limb and say I'd be happy to review
any FAQs that may exist to see what stupid questions are missing.

7) Organize background information. WHO is the kernel development
team? HOW does the kernel get developed, tested, shaken down,
bug-reported? WHAT are the new features and WHY are they important? (I
don't have a WHEN because things run a little loose around here.) I know
that many, many feature articles have been written that try to answer these
questions. MINE THOSE PAST ARTICLES, and improve the accuracy of that

It would help if there were one widely-recognized place for journalists to
go to find everything. My personal suggestion would be to open a section
on, then publicize the hell out of it.

We now return you to the current kernel religious war, already in progress...

Stephen Satchell

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