In the same way a reporter might only give a press release a five-second glance, billboards must communicate their entire message in the same amount of time.
Though not traditional PR, in order to communicate effectively, billboards should follow the same five-second rule. Here’s how to apply those rules to your next press release:
1. Stick to one message.
When traveling between 55 and 70 mph there isn’t much time to fully digest a message—let alone multiple messages. Choose your strongest one, and when possible, include a call to action.
2. Use fewer than 15 words (25 words for a first sentence of a press release).
During my drive I had a lot of time to evaluate billboards and concluded they should have fewer than 15 words. More than that, and they’re difficult to read.
In teaching us how to write news articles, my ex-reporter professor encouraged us to write lead sentences with fewer than 25 words. As PR pros, we often feel the need to get the entire gist in the first sentence. I once saw a lead sentence with more than 80 words—that’s a paragraph.