In our busy world, no one has time for the full story—they want a synopsis, a digest, a capsule that takes only seconds to deliver, is easy to swallow, and resonates in their minds. And it must contain everything they need to know. Since publicity is about getting your message across, brevity is a must. You must create a short introductory message that will cut through the din and draw attention to who you are, what you do, and the benefit it will provide. We call these messages sound bites.
If you want to get your message across, you need a great sound bite that will immediately capture the attention of busy people. When you get an opening to deliver your sound bite, you better make it good! You must deliver your sound bite quickly, clearly, and compellingly. The more briefly you say it, the better it is.
The media is especially impatient and wants information fast. When you watch TV or listen to the radio, notice how quickly everything moves. Most news stories are delivered in ten seconds or less and most TV segments run for three minutes. Since the media moves so fast, you must deliver information to them fast.
The purpose of a sound bite is to turn listeners on; it’s a verbal business card that you can deliver when you’re introduced to new people. It’s your “elevator speech”: a snappy, self-description that you can rattle off in the time it takes an elevator to rise from the lobby to the fifth floor.
Create a sound bite. Make sure it includes your name, the product or service you provide, and how it will help your consumer. Create your
sound bite in two stages: first, create a message that you can deliver in less than thirty seconds; then cut it down to ten or fifteen seconds for the media. Radio news segments come in ten-second increments so “if you can’t express what you want and why it’s newsworthy in ten seconds, you’re off the phone,” advised a news director for a major NBC affiliate.
As theatrical impresario David Belasco said, “If you can’t write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea.” A sound bite is the foundation on which to build a forceful and memorable public persona. It’s the first impression you make, an attention-grabbing device that will get you and your message noticed. Think of it as an investment with an immediate return because every time you use it, someone considers paying you.
Writing a sound bite forces you to sharpen your focus and examine your approach. It makes you identify your audiences, clarify who you are addressing, and focus on what you hope to receive from them. When you narrow these fields, it’s easier to promote yourself.
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