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Ideal Length of a Press Release

Q: What is the optimal size (one page or more) of a press release?

A: Everyone agrees that, as journalist Anne Zieger [BilodeauA@aol.com] states: "Brevity is the soul of readability", in some cases, more than one page is needed. So the answer really is, it depends.

Anne Zieger believes that, "length depends on subject". Esther Smith [esmith@morino.org] concurs. "I think the press release should match the importance and available detail of the information. Shorter and more frequent is also attractive."

In the one-page camp, "Press releases that cover a news development should seldom run more than one page," says Anne Zieger. Layla Masri [lmasri@beancreative.com] agrees. "Similar to a resume, most media professionals like to see one page. They're looking for something quick and easy to digest. Your job is to create a well-written release that compels them to read it in the first place, and imparts all the necessary info to interest them in covering the story. Most likely, if they decide to cover your story, they're going to call you for an interview, and that's when you pull out all the other details that weren't included in the release."

John Avarosis [john@wiredstrategies.com] , however, never requires one page. That said, he agrees that they should still be as brief as possible. "The reader should be able to get the major substance from the first two paragraphs. Long releases might be appropriate it you have a lot of quotes to put in, or really long background information. Anything beyond a page is like a good footnote -- interesting and useful if you read it, but it shouldn't be crucial to the document."

Neil Oatley [noatley@morino.org] emphasizes that content is much more important than length. "As a rule of thumb, one to two pages is fine. You can go to three if you have to for really necessary info, which brings up the more important issue. Length itself is less important than whether you have given the reporter a real story. If you have, then 1-2 pages should be plenty to capture it and get the reporter's interest; if you haven't, it probably doesn't matter how long it is. A straight product announcement ("we just released this and here's why it's a great product") may get you coverage in a targeted trade book sometimes, but for general purposes, you really need to have included (and led) with a reason for the reporter to care about the release-- a trend, a striking customer story, a new approach to a problem, research info, etc. Like anyone else, reporters (especially general business or news reporters) will read things they care about or find interesting. Which is also why it's important to get it to the right people rather than blanketing books."

Here are a few examples from Anne Zieger of tolerable (perhaps even useful) longer releases. They may:

    A) Describe a trend and how the company is oriented within that trend
    B) Provide a history/background on the technical or business development you're articulating
    C) Offer descriptions of how several players involved in mergers/acquisitions/partnerships do their business

Especially since many reporters now prefer to get their press releases via email, brevity is even more important.

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