Time-starved journalists and bloggers are always demanding that we get to the point and send ever shorter emails. My recommended standard limit for a cold email pitch is 150 words.
Here are some simple, immediately applicable steps to cut your word count.
1. Delete your first sentence. If you’re like almost every PR pro who has attended my workshops, you feel compelled to begin most of your pitches with a set-up line of background to put your news in context. When you’ve targeted your pitch properly, it’s unnecessary. “With Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, social media companies’ soaring valuations are distracting venture capitalists. Despite these conditions, low-tech DayGlo Tires just closed a $10 million round of fundraising . . .” See how you don’t need the first sentence?
2. Leave out proper names and formal titles in the first pitch. Unless the person has broad name recognition, the name can come later. “Devan Snead, associate research director for consumer technology, issued a report that found . . .” is wordy and overly long. Try this instead: “One of our analysts found . . .”
3. The following words are common and usually unnecessary – imagine them in a sentence and you’ll see what I mean: basically, essentially, actually, really, nice, past, future, located, currently, presently.
4. Cut another 25 percent. Once you’ve implemented those three steps to cut your pitch down, use the word count feature in Word to force yourself to cut another 25 percent. You might even need to omit distinct thoughts you’re trying to convey. This is great! It really forces you to put yourself in the journalist or blogger’s place and determine what’s most valuable. Give this a shot and then compare with your original version – most times you’ll realize that cutting the extra quarter of copy length costs you little in meaning.
I use these steps – and more from my writing workshop – to keep my weekly pitching tip emails under 400 words.