PR: The land of content and the home of the brevity.
I thought that perhaps it might be a good time to visit the subject of brevity in PR. We live in a world with increasingly strict space limitations and tightened engagement protocols to grab attention. From writing content to posting tweets to email media pitches to blog posts to writing news releases, the maturation and digitization of the Information Age has spawned an enormous number of people vying for attention and doing everything they can to be noticed.
Competition is so fierce for media and community attention these days that often times first impressions are the only ones that matter and there are no second chances. Learning how to be short and to the point but not sacrifice message integrity or creativity is the only way to garner attention.
The new PR brevity paradigm is: Be brief. Be descriptive. Be to the point. Or, be forgotten.
Despite the tremendous pressure to be succinct in a world where time is as precious and valuable as the air we breathe, it’s always good to remember the most effective ways to engage and to broadcast that demands as little time consumption as possible from your community or the media. Here is a review of some major PR tools we use to get attention and tips on how to be succinct:
- Twitter – When composing a tweet, learn to abbreviate when possible and try to leave at least 20 characters free so others have the ability to not only retweet, but add their own comments. The faster someone can retweet your post without having to spend 5 minutes abbreviating the tweet, the better the chances that it will likely be shared. I often find that the most successful posts with the largest amount of retweets are ones where I drop the headline of the link and type in my own brief interpretation of the article, using creative language that is more likely to catch the eye of my followers.
- Media email pitches – I have read several articles that suggest what the length of an email pitch should be and most seem to gravitate towards 3 – 4 paragraphs. Ok, that’s fine but I think this is a cookie cutter approach and I’m here to tell you that the REAL answer is it depends. I have sent pitches to reporters that are one sentence. Why? Because I developed a relationship with them prior to the pitch and when they saw the email from me they already knew who I was and what subject the email was going to cover. Brevity in this case should be a result of the relationship that you forged prior to the pitch, your knowledge of the journalist’s beat, and the subject you are covering.
- News Releases - Working in tech PR, you would not believe some of the lengthy news releases that I come across, some in excess of 1,000 words. It may sometimes be difficult to get a point across in 400 – 500 words but try and make this a benchmark when constructing a news release. A brevity tip I have found that works well for me is to write a release, edit it and then walk away for a few hours or even a day. When I revisit, often after re-reading I will discover words and phrases that aren’t needed and can be dropped without diluting the main message. Read the release out loud and often you will come across run on sentences or distorted phrasing. Have an impartial third party unfamiliar with the product or service read the release and see if they are able to understand the message after reading the headline and first two paragraphs. Chances are if they can’t grasp the main point quickly then the media you target won’t either.
- Blog posts – Much like news releases, (and depending on the topic) strive to keep your writing short and to the point. Unless you are an industry rock star who has a renowned reputation of offering priceless advice in every post you write, your audience may open a post and take one look at the length to determine if the piece is worth their attention. Brevity on blog posts is especially important if you are writing about a subject for a client without “a name” or reputation within the target vertical.
Remember, time is precious for everyone in this day and age. Don’t feel the need to wax on about a topic just to demonstrate your prowess. Keep it short, keep it precise and continually strive to sharpen your skills at being succinct.