How long can and should a sound bite be? There is this perception that sound bites have to be super super short. Certainly if you are talking about network broadcast tv news, they are on the short side. In 1988, the average sound bite was 9.8 seconds.

However, if you want to look at the broader context of sound bites, quotes for any kind of video or new outlet or radio and newspaper online publication in the text format, there is a much greater range. A sound bite could be as short as one word. In the context of some political debate or war it could just be ‘stop!’. But it can also be an entire paragraph or a minute and a half long.

The key is to have multiple sound bite elements. If you have a lot of emotion, absolutes, analogies, and rhetorical questions, you can get long soundbites. If you are communicating to the media your primary goal is to get the messages you want into the final story but each additional soundbite element you have increases the odds of your message getting in the final story.

So if you want longer sound bites and quotes, the key is not to just stick to your message or taking the reporter out for coffee afterwards. It is to have multiple sound bite elements.


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