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November 5, 2010
Shorten Those PR Headlines
 

With search engine prominence a factor now, , not just reporter and editor eyeballs, headlines on press releases are often too long, thus counterproductive. Google clips them off. So reports Mark McClennan, APR, of Schwartz Communications.

McClennan recommends that news release headlines be kept under 66 characters for full display in Google Search. Actually, our count, including spaces, suggested that 60 is a safer limit. 

The Schwartz counters found that only 18.4 percent of 16,000 news releases on Business Wire during a 31-day period last summer had headlines with 65 characters or fewer. The majority were under 150 characters, but two percent had 300 characters and one, though obviously an outlier, had more than 1,000.

The survey also noted :

 

  • Companies located in the tech hubs -- Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Austin, etc -- often do the worst job of optimizing headline length. The releases from New York, Philadelphia and Chicago were the best at keeping headlines short.

  • We love buzzwords -- but not in headlines: While PR people overuse buzzwords at least we don’t use them in headlines. Only 14% of releases have the most common buzzwords in the headlines.

Thanks for that much awareness. There's something about PR people and news releases. Many releases, we've noted, are poorly written, and now, we learn, a lot have headlines that are too long. Press releases are staples of the craft. Why don't we care more about handling a key tool properly?


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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