Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2005
There is something newsworthy happening at your organization right now. Here are some tips on how to tell your story.
First, make sure your story contains all the relevant facts. Ask yourself: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How?
Next, make your story readable. Here’s how:
• Use short sentences. (Best single thing you can do...and easiest.) Research shows sentences of 15-20 words or less are easiest to comprehend. If you must write a long sentence, punctuation — like colons and dashes — can help the reader.
• Use short paragraphs. Usually one or two sentences per paragraph is enough. Otherwise, the reader sees a solid, gray mass when looking at a narrow newspaper or magazine column.
• Use easy words. Avoid multi-syllable and/or technical words that are hard to understand. If you must use them, explain them with simple definitions or by using analogies.
• Use personal words. These are human interest words: e.g., “I,” “you,” “me,” “they,” names, quotes.
• Use active verbs. These are words that show action. Examples are easily found in recipes or on sports pages (mix, stir, blend, whip, hit, run).
• Get to the point...fast! Readers and editors don’t have the time or inclination to wade through a bunch of words before finding out what a story is all about.
• Use an “inverted pyramid” style. Most editors usually chop stories - to make them fit available space - from the bottom. So put the most important points first, second most important next, and so on down to the least important.
Now, alert the media.
About the Author
Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR, (http://www.hoover-ink.com). He has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses like Brent Dees Financial Planning, Duke Energy, Levolor, North Carolina Tourism, Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, VELUX and Verbatim.