Can you get your story across in 1 minute or less?
In the time it takes you to wash your hands, buckle your seat belt or start the dishwasher, your favorite journalist can finish reading your news release.
That’s right: Nearly 70% of journalists spend less than a minute reading a news release, according to a recent study by Greentarget. The rest spend one to five minutes.
So if your release is longer than 200 words, seven out of 10 journalists won’t finish it.
In fact, “releases that are too long” is the fourth biggest pet peeve of the journalists surveyed by Greentarget. (“Releases that are poorly written” — ouch! — is No. 3.)
To reach these folks, you need to write a one-minute release.
How long is a one-minute release?
So how short is that?
To find out, you need to figure A.R.T., or average reading time.
Writers measure copy in words, inches or pages. Readers use a different measure: time.
So instead of using writer-centric measures, think like your reader and measure in time, suggests Roy Peter Clark, vice president and senior scholar at The Poynter Institute and author of Writing Tools.
Clark figures the average adult can read 200 words per minute. So to find A.R.T., divide your word count by 200.
So if your release is 400 words long, it will take two minutes to read.
You can also start with A.R.T. and divide by 200 words per minute to get your word count.
So if you are aiming for a one-minute release, you’ll want to limit it to 200 words.
Releases are too long.
Yet despite these guidelines, PR pros persist in writing really long releases.
We ran a quick sample of PR Newswire releases and found that they weighed in at a median of 600 words. They ranged as high as 1,723 words — about a 9-minute read.
How long are your releases? Would they be twice as good if they were half as long?
You’re not still using the inverted pyramid … are you?
Prose is architecture, Ernest Hemingway famously said. It’s not interior design.
At NOT Your Father’s PR Writing — our media relations-writing workshop starting Aug. 15 — you’ll master a structure that’s been proven in the lab to increase readership, understanding, engagement and sharing.
Plus, you’ll steal structural tricks from Silver Anvil award winners, model lead approaches from The New York Times, and learn to build a better lead with our fill-in-the-blanks recipe.
Save up to $100 with our group discounts.