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October 2014 • The PCB Design Magazine 11 andy Shaughnessy is manag- ing editor of The PCB Design Magazine. He has been cover- ing PCB design for 15 years. He can be reached by clicking here. the shaughnessy report SO YOU WANT TO WRITE AN ARTICLE! continues Keep it concise and precise. Say what you need to say, and stop writing. Here are a few slightly exaggerated composites of sentences I've seen. • The challenges PCB designers and engi- neers face are often challenging to PCB design- ers and engineers. • Smaller North American printed circuit board fabricators and medium-sized North American printed circuit board fabricators can often learn from larger North American printed circuit board fabricators. • The industry's problems can be very, very problematic. • Your department will never have a proper process in place unless you create a process. These sound silly, don't they? But I see this kind of thing every so often. If you're in doubt, read your complete draft out loud. Or have your spouse read it; many of our contributors utilize their spouses for copy editing. If your wife is like my exes, she won't mind telling you that you've made a mistake or two. The "So What?" Test Once you're finished writing, the "So what?" test comes into play. Think about it: if a designer reads your article, is he likely to say, "So what? Every designer knows that." Or will a designer say, "Wow, I didn't know that. This guy is quite intelligent, and he really keeps his thumb on the pulse of the industry. I'll read his stuff every time. I'll consider his company the next time I need new software, fabrication, or design services, or whatever his company offers." Obviously, you can't write about a techno- logical breakthrough in every article. But you don't have to. The good thing about designers is that you all have a different take on every subject. In our case, we love columns, first-person screeds that allow (require, actually) the writer to share his personal feelings on the topic. Put- ting yourself into the story gets other design- ers interested. There's an old saying in journal- ism: People like reading about other people. Talk about how you overcame a certain hurdle. Explain how you had a problem fanning out from a monster BGA, but you won the day by doing this, this, and this. Readers like a good story about trials and tribulations. Give it to them. Press Release 101 We post dozens of news stories each day, most of which arrive as press releases. If you're sending a press release to the media, don't for- get to include times, dates, prices, and other rel- evant information. I still get PRs lacking these items. Remember: Send press releases whenever you do anything, and I mean anything. Some of the larger EDA companies send out a PR if they hire a new janitor, and that's fine. I'd rath- er have too many press releases to choose from than too few. Released a new product? Hired a new de- signer, EE, or sales manager? That's a PR. And think of it this way: You didn't just hire a new designer. No, your company is in a growth pe- riod, and the constant stream of new customers has made it imperative that you expand your staff. That new product is the first of many as you lead the industry into the future, etc. For a good PR, give a summary of the news in the first paragraph. This should be followed by a quote from the CEO or CTO about how great this news is for you and your customers. (As I said, people love people, and press releases with quotes get more hits than those without quotes.) Finally, the last few paragraphs break down the details of the new tool or new hire. Don't forget an "About the Company" tagline at the end, including a company URL. I hope this helps those of you considering writing for us. We'd love to have you on board. If you have any questions, give me a shout. See you next month! PCBDESIGN

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