You’d be surprised to know how often I still get questions about target word counts for press releases. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still have a hard time believing this line of thinking hasn’t fallen by the wayside. I guess the old school SEO idea that you need 500-plus words or whatever is a hard one to shake for many people.
But here’s the deal (and I wish I could get this through EVERYONES’ heads). Press releases aren’t about word counts. We aren’t trying to hit that 400 or 500 word mark to get Google to “take our content seriously.” Quite the contrary, actually.
See, the idea here is to worry about Google last. That’s right. You shouldn’t be writing your releases for Google. You’re writing for bloggers, reporters, and so on. You know, people who will read your content and use it to reproduce their own original content. People who will give you free press.
And guess what? They aren’t concerned about your word count. In fact, chances are they aren’t even going to read your entire press release. They’re going to skim it. And if it’s too long or too difficult to skim through in a timely manner, they’re going to raise the middle finger to your release and move on.
Of course, that’s not what you want, right?
That being said, you need to focus on making your press release tight and lean. Here are a few ways to do it.
- Don’t even consider word count when you sit down to write. That’s right. Don’t even look down to the bottom left corner of your word doc to see where you’re at. Just write. No fluff. No BS. Just get straight to the point and end it. If you want to look at the word count once it’s all said and done, more power to you.
- Avoid tired clichés. Look, I know we use them when we blog. That’s because we blog like we speak. And we use these sayings when we speak. But remember the goal for your press release is to get the info across quickly. So phrases like “at the end of the day” and “when it comes to blah blah blah” can be nixed for more direct speech.
- Skip needless commas. I find that the average person is clueless when it comes to comma rules. The result? They sprinkle them all throughout wherever seems logical in their mind…which leads to overuse. Well, that’s certainly something you don’t want to do in a press release. Remember, a comma is designed to slow a reader down and take a breath. Whether they’re reading it out loud or not, the brain is trained to pause when it detects a comma. Thus, readability drops. For more info on comma use, click here and read the quick, useful tips.
- Active not passive. Passive sentences full of boring “be” verbs (am, is, are, was, were) lend themselves to wordiness. By flipping those sentences around and making them active, not only do you shorten them, but you get more powerful sentences. For example, instead of “The new product release was announced on Thursday,” you could write “The Company announced the new product release Thursday.”
Remember, you want to get your message out quickly and clearly. No need to waste anyone’s time. Doing so could keep your message from ever being heard.
Any more tips for keeping your press releases lean? Tell us about them!
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/offer/prchecklist.html