Back to Basics With The Twitter Pitch

I was delighted – if still slightly dumbfounded – to read that there are now experts who (for a small consideration, obviously) will teach you how to condense your messages (press releases, mostly) to make them suitable for distribution via Twitter. I suppose there’s no earthly reason why you shouldn’t also Twitterise pitch documents and contract tenders either, on that basis.

I’ve seen it referred to as the Twitter Pitch – you’ve your limited amount of words, and you have to get the essence of your message across in that number of words. Ideally, within those 140 words, you should introduce, illustrate and conclude. Brilliant. In essence, it’s the same as what used to be called the elevator pitch and is now the escalator pitch (shorter and more public), only it’s even shorter and (potentially) even more public.

This is a great thing and, for me, so far, the best and most useful thing to come out of the whole social media whirlwind. Thinking about the Twitter pitch will (should) get people thinking about brevity, about being concise, frugal with words, about the essence of communication.

I was always told that a media announcement should be no more than three paragraphs – tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them what you’re telling them, tell them what you’ve told them – and I lose count of the amount of times I’ve heard media trainers tell people how many media releases an average journalist gets a day, and that your story has to be in the first para, or you’re lost.  Why then, do so-called communications professionals still issue three or more page releases? Check PRNewswire if you don’t believe me.

The Twitter Pitch is not new. The Twitter Pitch is really just the equivalent of the first para of a well-crafted media release. Short, informative, to-the-point. Make them want to know more. The advent of email as a comms tool (yes, I can remember a time without it) (1583, small castle, Transylvania) also demanded a return to the less-is-more school, and while it’s physically possible to use more than 140 words in an email – is it advisable if you’re emailing a journalist?

What the Twitter Pitch will do, if we’re lucky, and if Twitter doesn’t suddenly curl up and evaporate (is it me, or is Twitter already becoming a hotbed of spam and phish – the sort of decadence that must, surely, presage the end) is prompt the learning or re-learning of a basic communications skill – taking complex messages and turning them into something simple that everyone can understand.

I have to say that, until recently, I thought this was something that was second-nature to anyone in communications. The rise of the Twitter Pitch consultant proves me wrong. And isn’t it scary that it’s taken something as hollow and transitory as Twitter to make us realise that our basic skills are lacking.

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