Journalists can complete reading your press release in the time it takes you to wash your hands, fasten your seatbelt, or get the dishwasher going. That’s why press release length is important to keep in mind.
According to a recent survey by Greentarget, over 70% of journalists spend less than a minute reading a news release. Most others stay for a few minutes.
Therefore, if your release is more than 300 to 400 words long, 7 out of 10 journalists won’t read it in full.
Why Does Everything Have to Be So Quick?
- Nearly half (45%) of journalists questioned get fifty or more press releases each week.
- Around 21% regularly get one hundred or more.
- 40% get 10 to 50.
Journalists receive so many emails that it’s overwhelming. Moreover, journalists’ already limited time is further pressed due to years of media cutbacks and rising expectations on them to provide digital material.
Consequently, “press releases that are too long” is the fourth largest pet complaint of the journalists polled by Greentarget. Third on the list is “poorly written releases”.
Therefore, how can you draft a news release that is both concise and appealing to readers and search engines alike?
A One-Minute Release Lasts How Long?
How brief is it, exactly?
The Average Reading Time may be calculated to get an idea.
Copy is often measured in words, inches, or pages. For readers, time is the unit of measurement of choice.
The vice president and senior scholar of The Poynter Institute and author of Writing Tools, Roy Peter Clark, recommends switching from writer-centric to reader-centric metrics, namely time.
According to Clark, the typical adult can read at a rate of 200 words per minute. A.R.T. is calculated by dividing the total number of words in your paper by 200.
A perfect press release of 300 to 400 words will take around two minutes to read.
You may also calculate your word count by beginning with the A.R.T. and dividing by 200 words per minute to achieve ideal length of the content.
So, if you want your news release to be read in under a minute, stick to no more than 200 words.
Shorten the Text.
A couple more reasons to shorten your press release:
- If it is longer than 700 words, Google News may not accept it.
- If it is longer than 500 words, specific portals may cut it short.
On top of that, reading on a screen is a tedious task. Real readers will appreciate releases of about 300 to 400 words.
However, avoid making paragraphs that are too short. Depending on the nature of your press release, if the article is less than 125 words long, Google News may also not accept it.
It Takes Too Long Between Releases.
Public relations specialists often produce releases far longer than necessary.
We examined a few P.R. Newswire releases and calculated an average word count of 600. If you have three minutes, you can read that. The longest one I found was 1,723, which I read in around 9 minutes.
However, some public relations experts are discovering methods to shorten the length of press releases by considerable amounts:
- Nokia’s earnings report is now just 41 words long.
- This 19-word news release from Pizza Hut is notable for introducing a new product: A lot of bacon. At the surface! Blake Shelton, a country music superstar and Stuffed Crust pizza enthusiast stated, “You’re welcome, America.”
- Tweets are the distilled essence of Christopher S. Penn’s press announcements.
- And this one-word resolution has me going crazy.
What to include in your elevator pitch?
The “Business Watercooler” piece written by A.P.’s J.W. Elphinstone is just 200 words long. So why do some people send 30-slide PowerPoint presentations with rambling justifications for why she should buy their product?
The New York Times has coined the abbreviation “A.K.K.” to stand for “all prevailing knowledge.” Find a compact story angle and compose a pitch to appeal to journalists. Try to convey all there is to know about your issue in a few key sentences. Keep your sales speeches succinct.
Limit yourself to no more than three paragraphs.
Peter Shankman, the founder of HARO, recommends keeping your pitch to three paragraphs. Include:
- The plot premise. Think about the journalists’ target audience and how this story will influence them. Do not make it any longer than a couple of sentences, the average length of a social media post.
- What’s unique about this release? Whether you want to utilize bullet points or a few short paragraphs, the body content should make clear why your news article would appeal to the outlet’s specific target audience.
- Data for getting in touch. Include important information about your company like email and phone in case they have any questions.
- Best, Your Name, and goodbye.
Have it in under 150 words.
Most successful proposals have between 100-150 words. Here are four questions to conside when crafting the perfect pitch:
- The question is, “Why you?” Make sure you’re pitching to the right journalists and bloggers. Begin with a kind hello and tailor your narrative to the specific media outlet, column, or segment for which they are responsible.
- For what reason is this occurring? Provide important information to convince the target audience that this story is unique and newsworthy.
- So why now? Put some urgency into the situation. This isn’t just another topic that might be reported at any time but is a breaking news item of immediate importance. Put some thought into how current or relevant your lead is.
- Why us? Demonstrate some sign of power and trustworthiness. Show that your representative is a legitimate — maybe even controversial — personality without regurgitating her whole background information.
Picture a cocktail party.
Belsito & Co.’s vice president in New York, Barbara Goldberg, considers “how I might get a buddy at a cocktail party interested in two minutes or less” when she proposes a story.
Goldberg, for instance, proposed the following narrative to raise awareness among her chosen target audience for the Surviving Sepsis Campaign:
Far too many of us have personal experience with someone who went to the hospital for treatment of a routine illness or even a planned procedure like surgery and never came out.
The root of the problem is severe sepsis, which can be remedied in most instances but is still one of the top causes of mortality in the United States. It accounts for more annual deaths (215,000) than lung, colon, and breast cancers and affects 2% of all hospital admissions in the United States.
You must be able to stand on one foot.
Professional public relations representatives stand on one foot when making phone pitches. Their pitch is over as soon as one of their feet touches the ground.
See whether your pitch works. Stand on one foot and read it loudly. You will know if your copy should be trimmed if it is not finished by the time your second foot hits the ground.
Or, you may perfectly time your sales presentation. Planned Television Arts president, Rick Frishman, suggests keeping your proposal to:
Word count: 30 for print, 10-20 for broadcast.
Don’t give everything away; instead, tease.
It is not the purpose of the pitch to provide important information to the media outlet for media coverage; rather, it is meant to stimulate their attention. It’s unnecessary to include an overload of information in your pitch just because you know it.
If journalists need more information, they can click the link to the entire news release. However, the whole press release should never be included in your pitch.
Lastly, when crafting a pitch, avoid PowerPoint presentations at all costs.