These are invaluable insights from an editor that I plan to use as I format my PR and content marketing projects. It's so easy to slip into auto-pilot and push out the company name/ brand/ products rather than think about what will resonate with audiences and make them engage. Some of these tips are very specific (e.g. try to keep all paragraphs under 30 words and to three lines) and I plan to put this tip into practice and test the results. A little restriction on my writing never hurt! Which tips are new to you?
This is an edited version of Timeless Storytelling Tips from Former PR Newswire Features Editor Fred Ferguson. Full post by Sarah Skerik is on Beyond PR, August 28, 2014 .
A computer programmer develops a program to keep Internet pornography from the PC his son uses.
A retired schoolteacher produces a set of cards to teach his own children math and vocabulary faster.
And a dance teacher confined to a chair because of a broken leg creates a videotape teaching chair dancing.
These are the personal, dramatic stories that once hid in routine news releases. Organizations and companies who need publicity may get more exposure by doing a feature story rather than issuing a straight news releases. Marketers who want their content to resonate with audiences should pay heed to these tips by Fred Ferguson, the former manager of PR Newswire’s Feature News Service.
- Hit editors with the story in the headline, which is all they see in selecting stories.
- Tell the same story in the first paragraph, which should never be cute, soft, a quote or a question. These leads obstruct getting to the story. People, editors included, don’t read deep
- Support the first paragraph with a second that backs it up and provides attribution. Bury the product and service name at the end of the second paragraph so it becomes less advertorial.
- Try to keep all paragraphs under 30 words and to three lines. This curbs fulmination, is easier for editors to cut to fit available space, holds the reader’s attention and is attractive in most page layouts
- Do not excessively repeat the name of a product or service. Doing so is story desecration and the feature loses print and broadcast opportunities
- Forget superlatives. Forget techno babble. Forget buzz words. Tell why consumers care instead;
- Never say anything is first or the best, express an opinion or make claims unless you directly attribute it to someone. Editors avoid anything not pinned to someone
- Avoid the self-serving laundry list of products or services. A better way to introduce a product or service is to have a spokesperson discussing it as a trend or advising how to use it
- Know that putting the corporate name in all capital letters violates style and will be rejected by many as advertorial and unsightly. Also beware trademark repetition.
- Do not use the corporate identity statement. Instead, use the information throughout the story so that it will be used. If you must use the boilerplate, put it in note to editor so it won’t interfere with text.