Press release length plays a crucial role in getting a journalist’s attention. For this reason, you need to know how long a good press release should be. Most people know that writing concisely equals writing effectively. So, how do we do this when we’re writing a press release?
“Make sure the press release is grammatically correct, error-free, and doesn’t have long wordy paragraphs. The first paragraph should have important facts that answer: who, what, when, where and why. Also, if a press release is too long, sometimes it won’t get read.” – Debra Dixon-Anderson, Founder and CEO at Light of Gold PR, Marketing and Consulting LLC
How to develop a concise news release
The average reporter spends 5-10 seconds reading a press release before deciding whether it is worth their time. Therefore, you need to know what journalists think about press releases so you can avoid committing a faux pas. You also need to be concise.
Whenever you start writing a press release, the following tips will help you build it up to the perfect press release length:
1. Focus on the goal
Before you even start writing, you should outline the goals you want this press release to accomplish. Understanding the purpose of your press release will help you stick to the main points. In effect, this will make it easier to get the press release length right. This is because you won’t waste time going off on tangents.
2. Develop an empathetic understanding of your reader
Base your writing on an empathetic understanding of your reader so that you write what they want to read. This means that not only do you know who your reader is, but you also know what matters to them. This information will help you understand what information you need to include.
3. Avoid information overload
Don’t consider your press release a place to share your entire company history. Keep it simple and stick to details relevant to the story. Journalists don’t want to go digging through your story for the important details. If you can give them what they need, then you’ll have a higher chance of getting a mention.
4. Lead with the hook
A press release is no place for cliffhangers. Mention the most important part of your story (your hook) in the headline. Highlight the interesting information in the beginning so journalists know your story is worth reading.
5. Plan to proofread
During your writing process, budget time afterwards for proofreading. You might find it easier to first write without focusing on word count then edit your press release later. This will help you cut out fluff, exaggerations and jargon. And thus, by editing you will arrive at an ideal press release length.
6. Create smooth transitions
While proofreading, make sure there is a smooth flow of information from one paragraph to the next. Aim to have no repetition of information.
7. Aim for long-term success
Remember you’re in this for the long haul. If you write a great press release but it doesn’t attract much attention, don’t make the next one longer. You can tweak other elements of your press release and improve your writing.
When it comes to press release length, always keep it short and sweet. You will make a good impression on journalists if they can count on you to lead them to the most important information.
It’s important to build a long-term strategy with your press release. You can reach out to a public relations agency like Pressfarm to help you with this.
Now that we have talked about what to keep in mind, let’s talk about press release length.
So, how long should my press release be?
A good press release is one A4 page long, an average of 300-400 words long. You should be aiming for 3-4 short paragraphs. Each paragraph should only be 3-4 sentences long. In the same way, your sentences should be 20-25 words long.
Now let’s talk about the elements of your press release. Addressing each element separately will help us achieve the best press release length.
Your headline should be 10 words long at the most. In those 10 words, you should also cover your main point to bait your reader into reading the rest of the press release. It’s also important to mention the company you’re talking about here. This way, your brand will stand out immediately.
The subtitle builds on the headline by offering more information. A subtitle of 20 words or less is ideal. With that in mind, make sure you explain the most important elements of your headline. This gives your reader just enough information, so they have an idea what the press release is about.
iii. Opening sentence
Your opening sentence should summarize the story in no more than 15-20 words. Try to fit as many of your 5Ws in the opening line as possible. These are the “Why”, “What”, Where”, “When” and “Who”. If you can’t fit all of these elements in one sentence, then at least make sure you cover them in the opening paragraph.
A great opening line should be similar to the opening lines in news stories. Many journalists will look for the most important information here. To write a great opening line, imagine this story is being aired on TV or radio. What would a presenter say to introduce your story? Use that elevator pitch as your opening sentence and you’ll be well on your way to the perfect press release length.
iv. Opening paragraph
“Your intro paragraph is crucial – spend 90 percent of your time to get this right. This needs to be your entire story in less than 25 words. Make it strong but avoid hyperbole and exaggeration. That’s a major turn off for a reporter.” – Alistair, Founder at Class: PR
Your entire opening paragraph should be dedicated to answering the 5Ws. The ideal length for an opening paragraph is 3 sentences. Avoid the temptation to provide background information of the company and the founders here. This can be included in the boilerplate at the end.
In your quest for the best press release length, it’s not enough to just focus on the first 3 elements. So, what comes next?
v. Main body
The main aim of the body is to break the rest of your information down into digestible pieces. Make sure you have plenty of white space so that your readers don’t feel overwhelmed. Sticking to the aforementioned rule of 3-4 sentences per paragraph should help with this.
Include at least one quote in the main body. This lends credibility to your story while also giving your brand some personality. Ideally you should be aiming for one quote, two at the most.
With subheadings or bullet points, you can break complicated information up into smaller pieces. This is especially useful if you’re talking about something technical or highlighting statistics.
At the same time, remember that statistics can easily get overwhelming. If you have too much information, you can highlight the key statistics and provide a link to the rest.
vi. Closing paragraph
It is important to try to be concise all the way to the end of your press release. Ideally, your closing paragraph should summarize all your information in 3-4 sentences.
Your boilerplate should include pertinent information about your company. Talk about what you do. Highlight the founders and their backgrounds. Mention any awards your company has won.
This is the perfect place to plug all the information you thought would lend you more credibility. However, don’t go overboard. Remember to keep it within 3-4 sentences as before.
viii. Contact information
At this point you might be tempted to include all your social media handles and email addresses. Don’t do that. Instead, pick one person to be your press representative, and provide their phone number and email address. Likewise, only include the handles of your 3 most active social media platforms.
Now you know what you should be aiming for. How do you tweak your information if you can’t achieve the best press release length?
How do you adjust your press release?
In the event that your press release is still too long, don’t despair. Sometimes simply incorporating a variety of communication tools can solve your problem.
You can shorten a long press release by hosting additional information elsewhere. Write a blog post or build a landing page. Include a link to either of these resources in your press release for people who want to know more.
In some cases images can be more effective than words. You can include an image in your press release or develop a supporting infographic. Images have the added bonus of simplifying complex information.
Writing a press release doesn’t need to be a daunting process. With these tips, you can tell journalists all they need to know without losing them halfway through.
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