Get Heard With Fewer Words

As people get more and more news from blogs, Facebook posts and tweets, content is becoming shorter and shorter. In fact, new guidelines put out by the Associated Press request that stories be no more than 500 words. Simply put, people want to read something short, sweet and to the point.


Fletcher Prince / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The same is true with journalists and editors. They get hundreds of emails a day, so chances are they aren’t interested in reading a long, detailed pitch and press release from you. They want to know the important facts as quickly as possible.

If your story isn’t getting heard, try making brevity and succinctness your focus. Here are some ways to do that:

Media Pitches:

  • Have a strong, attention-getting and short subject line
  • Make the media pitch a short and intriguing summary of the story in the body of the email
  • Be sure to focus on the timeliness and the local connection of the story, if applicable
  • Encourage interaction by providing multiple ways for the journalist to contact you, should they want more information

Press Releases:

  • Write more like a journalist, focusing on the news aspect of the story
  • Include the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How in the first couple paragraphs – that way if that’s the only thing they read they still get the gist of the story
  • Always limit press releases to one page
  • Save them as PDFs so they can be universally opened and send them as an attachment to your pitch email
  • Attach pictures if you have them that journalists can use to go with the story

Another suggestion is to use your media contact database to its full potential; at Kimball Communications our database tells us an editor’s preferred form of contact. Some prefer phone, email or Twitter, this is a good thing to use in order to follow up with them and gauge their interest in your story.

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#RFTweet: And now for something completely different

Yesterday, Aloft Hotels officially ended their novel #RFTweet process. Most businesses vet PR agencies through a time- and paper-consuming Request for Proposal (RFP) process, one with which we have ample experience. We were game to try something new in the pursuit of a fun, new client.

If you follow @kimballpr on Twitter, you’ll notice that we aren’t hourly tweeters like many other agencies. Frankly, we’re busy writing and calling and posting and tweeting for our clients. But don’t let that lull you into think we can’t deploy our social media skills when necessary. We did what we’re best at, producing a thoughtful yet timely, multimedia-enhanced pitch. Even if we don’t get a call for the second round of vetting, this was a valuable exercise in practicing what we preach, namely:

  • Acting, not reacting, on social media
  • Incorporating video, photos and fun
  • Making use of evergreen content

See our Storify of the experience for the full story.

[View the story “#PitchAloft with Kimball PR” on Storify]