Put yourselves in the shoes of a journalist. Every day, you’re getting dozens of pitches from PR people seeking coverage for their clients. Your inbox is flooded with press releases, and the phone is ringing off the hook. You don’t have the time or energy to read every single press release and pitch that you get, so you just glance over them quickly to absorb the major details and find the stories that are most interesting.
The press releases that do the best job of getting the basic information delivered clearly and in the least number of words are typically the ones that stand out from the rest. Too many times, press releases suffer from TMI (too much information). They are cluttered with every possible detail related to the story at hand, and they cause information overload. In other words, they cause the reader to tune out.
See, the truth is that once you overload the reader with information, you actually cause them to tune out. Too much information is a bad thing. It’s overwhelming, and it causes desensitization to information.
I understand the temptation to cram every detail you can think of into a press release, because when you’re close to a story, everything seems important to you. But the truth is journalists (and your customers too) can only absorb so much information, so you have to really pick and choose which bits of information you want to share in your press release.
Here are some things you can do to keep your press releases from suffering from TMI:
- Create a strong headline – Don’t try to be clever with your headline. Focus instead on clarity. A good headline clearly captures the essence of your story and hopefully is also optimized for the search engines. Try to limit your headlines to about 10 words at the most.
- Have a clear, strong lead – A strong opening paragraph will contain the main hook of your story – the basic details that make the piece newsworthy. Don’t try to do too much here. Just focus on simplifying the message.
- Set a target word count – A good press release is usually about 250 words in today’s online era where readers have shorter attention spans than ever before. Remember, your press release doesn’t have to tell the whole story, just the main idea that readers need to know.
- Edit. Edit. Edit – After you’ve written your first draft of the press release, take a close look at it to see if there’s anything you can cut out without losing the main essence of the story. Trim it down until it’s as tight and clear as possible.
What are some of the tactics you use to make sure your press releases don’t create information overload?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab three free ebooks, including the Big Press Release Book and Twitter Tactics, here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/freebooks.html