Does Your Press Release Pass the Scan Test?

It’s no secret that journalists are more pressed for time than ever before. Their inboxes are brimming with press releases and pitches, and thanks to dwindling staffs at most news outlets, their workloads are increasing at the same time. If you want to get your press release read, it needs to be short and to the point, but more than that, it needs to pass the scan test.

Here’s the unfortunate truth you probably don’t want to hear. Most reporters aren’t going to read your press release word for word. I know you put a lot of care into every word in your press release (and rightfully so), but the fact is that most reporters who actually do open your press release are going to scan over it quickly, rather than actually read the whole thing.

It’s not just because they’re pressed for time; it’s mostly because that’s just how we look at content online. Numerous eye-tracking studies have shown that we all tend to scan content online rather than fully read it.

Scary eyes of a manSo, what does that mean for you as your write your press releases? It means you need to make them easy to scan by doing the following:


  • Get to the point quickly. Don’t bury the story deep into your press release.
  • Put the most important information at the beginning of each paragraph.
  • Break the content up into short paragraphs and short sentences.
  • Use bullet points when possible to highlight key takeaways.
  • Cut the jargon and fluff. If it doesn’t absolutely need to be in there, get it out.
  • If you’re going to emphasize text with italics or underlining, do so sparingly and only to emphasize key information.


Simply put, a reporter should be able to scan over your press release in just a few quick seconds and know what the story is about. If he or she can’t do that, you’ve failed.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, 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:

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