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What’s the Right Press Release Length?

Usually, when we talk about creating the perfect press release, we focus on crafting catchy headlines and avoiding silly grammar errors. But these aren’t the only elements required for a successful press release. And you might even argue that they aren’t the most important. So, what is?

Length. Press release length is extremely important, but it’s one of those things that never gets talked about and that always gets overlooked. However, with some reports showing the average reporter or editor spends just 5 seconds reading a news release before deciding whether or not to toss it in the garbage, it’s clear that length matters.

Of course, this begs the question: What’s the right press release length?

On average, a good press release can be written with anywhere from 300-500 words. Once you eclipse the 500 word mark, there’s a good chance you’re just wasting space on words that will never get read. Your best bet is to try to get your press release to fit on a single page. This lets the reporter or editor quickly scan through it in their allotted 5 seconds.

How to Keep Your Press Release Short and Sweet

So, what can you do to make sure your press release doesn’t turn into a novel? Here are a few tips for keeping it short and to the point.

  • Focus on answering the most basic questions – It’s all about answering the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions with your press release. Come up with the answers to these questions before you begin writing, and then format these answers into short, easy-to-read paragraphs.
  • You don’t have to tell the entire story – You don’t need to include every single detail you can think of in your press release. Remember, your goal is to get the journalist’s attention with your story and to have them contact you for an interview where they can get more details and you can get more coverage.
  • Cut out the fluff and hype – I like to do my editing on a physical sheet of paper. That’s why I print out the press release and have a red pen nearby. Go through the press release and search out any fluff, hype, or jargon. Chances are, you’ll find something that doesn’t need to be there. Slash it out with your pen. Once you’ve done all your editing, rewrite it, and give it one more read to make sure it really is fluff-free.

What do you think is the ideal press release length? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

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20 Responses

  1. tama says:

    I am an Japanese PR Planner in Tokyo and am much inspired by your comment.

    I’ve been thinking that “get your press release to fit on a single page” is an Japanese culture. One of a PR adviser said to us that “best press release is an picture that enable (Japanese) journalist to read/glance it from left-top to right-bottom at a strech.” (I’m not good at English but are you understand me?)

    Would you please specity “fluff” and show me an example? My English dictionary is poor and I cannot find right translation.
    Your explanation will be a help to understand your opinion perfecly.

  2. prfuel says:

    Fluff: unnecessary words of little value.

    Fluff example:
    I went to a new restaurant in Baltimore. The name of this new restaurant is Danos. I didn’t know what the name meant. I asked the chef. His name is Danos. Mystery solved. Despite downtown parking, I made it ten minutes early. I own a Toyota Prius. The dinner was really good. The entree was quite good. I liked the appetizer. The warm bread was a nice touch but not unusual. The wine was excellent and the crowning jewel of the meal. The entire meal was good. I enjoyed the chicken dish best of all.

    Rewritten:
    Although the chicken dish was the most enjoyable part of the meal at Danos — a new restaurant in Baltimore by a chef of the same name — it was all quite good, especially the wine.

  3. Jim Smith says:

    Love your point of views…short, sweet and to the point is the best…fluff will get your release sent to the Round File or Trash folder. Keep up the great work.

  4. Sue LaBelle says:

    Mickie:

    I think you’re cool and know what you’re talking about.

    I’ve been a writer / publicist for 20 yrs and am kind of old school when it comes to pitching and promoting. I have used PR Newswire in the past with great results; however, I have a limited budget on this one (am considering pitching you / your $ to my client) but don’t want to waste my release just on a few targeted venues.

    What do you suggest? I have also used MediaListsOnline in the past but 1) have found info not current on many accounts and 2) too expensive for this guy.

    I am representing a high-end builder who gets his clients primarily from out of state so local press may be a kudo but it’s not targeting his potential clients.

    Have you any experience with in-flight pubs?

    Sue

  5. Sue,

    Why not eReleases? You get national coverage, including PR Newswire for just $399 (and 500 words, not 400 words included). You can visit Where Does It Go? on top navigation to see where your release goes as well as view 200 target/industry categories.

  6. tama says:

    Thanks for your nice explanation.

    Tama

  7. Douglas Perret Starr says:

    Pooh.
    It’s all too simple.
    The correct length of any story is the story, no missing information, no unnecessary words. The story of Creation is done in Genesis in fewer than 800 words.
    For publication outside the company, no news release should be more than 100 words.
    Write clearly, get to the point, write tight, 30.
    former ap newsman

  8. Jim Bowman says:

    Two points, Mickie. 1) Are you including boilerplate and summary paragraphs in your word count?
    2) Are you assuming the primary audience for an online release is journalists? Journalists often are a secondary audience for online releases. That said, write for discriminating readers, keep it to the point.

  9. Ellen says:

    We believe the right length is what it takes. Quite often, that’s one page plus the boilerplate. Other times, it’s more than that. The editors and reporters I primarily work with appreciate the details, even if the paper doesn’t have room to publish all that.

  10. Colson says:

    A couple of observations: at one firm I worked, we had one tight short release version for the official paid wire services, which dramatically reduced our spend. If that isn’t an incentive to tighten up, I don’t know what is. We then often posted a longer version to the Web site, or at least had it in our pockets for targeted media use. The real challenge is that sacrosanct boilerplate which is sometimes foisted on PR – and often the most jargon laden of an otherwise tight release. PR needs to stay on that. At one firm, PR finally battled for a boilerplate that was half its original length! Cheers throughout the team! Last, even the best of us sometimes have clients who edit jargon back in to our edited releases, and we need to pick our battles on the edits, fight the worthwhile fight, and try to keep words like “revolutionary” out of our copy!

  11. I’d say it depends on your audience and distribution. If you’re targeting media shorter is better.

    However, if you’re pitching search engines then length is good for 2 reasons.
    1 – some distributors like PRWeb have a limit of 1 link per 100 words. I usually want 3-4 links so my wordcount has to be 300-400 words.
    2 – With more words you have a chance to use keyword repetition without looking/sounding spammy.

    Best short press release example from Joan Stewart:
    A local newspaper ran a story about how five and dime stores are dead. The owner of such a store wrote the words WE ARE NOT DEAD on some paper with his contact info. He got covered. Shortest press release ever.

    Best
    Janet

  12. Roseberry says:

    I found this site this morning while hoping to justify my disappointment with my boss. She just now sent out a 1,000-word, three-page press release. Ouch! It is well-written, but completely inappropriate for the general media. And she’s a magazine editor so I cannot say a word. Thanks for helping me feel a bit better!

  13. [...] Keep the press release short and sweet by eliminating the fluff and hype words. (taken from this website) [...]

  14. J. Jones says:

    This was information that i could use. I have been struggling with how long a press release should be as I have never written one before. This gives me a good starting point. Thanks!!

  15. Ricky Richardson says:

    Appreciate you sharing, great blog article.Thanks Again.

  16. Ludwig Fleck says:

    If the title, the lead and the first paragraph contains all, the length of the press release does not matter. An interested journalist will read it all through. I send press release about complex scientific researches, for which journalists do not have time to adapt the content. I offer a short (100 words) and long story (up to 1000 words). It saves them writing and interview time. Besides, they can condense it quickly in an article, under the best angle for their readers. This may not apply for other news topics.

  17. […] What is the Right Press Release Length? […]

  18. […] What is the Right Press Release Length? […]

  19. Zac Pagin says:

    I have line up a dozens of press releases to publish once every week. I just hope I do not make a fool of myself.

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