When your company earns a feature article in the news, you have the potential to reach thousands of prospective customers, enhance your reputation, create buzz and generate word-of-mouth marketing. Therefore, how do you write a compelling story that gets attention?
A few months ago, I received an assignment to promote an award. Mark’s Northeast Furniture Foundation had won the 2016 Green Initiative Award for donating furniture to charity and preventing it from being dumped in local landfills.
However, if I had led the story with, “Mark’s Northeast Furniture Foundation wins green initiative award,” that may have only received a one paragraph mention in a magazine’s “business notes” section.
No, the story was much bigger than an award. Mark had tapped into a deeper environmental problem that deserved public attention.
I rewrote the story angle:
“The environmental consequences of furniture disposal: Solving the next big waste problem.”
You will notice that there is no mention of Mark’s foundation or his award in the headline. In fact, the foundation is not mentioned until halfway through the story and the award does not show up until the final paragraph. Instead, the article focuses on the scope of the environmental problem, the damage being caused and how to solve it.
When I pitched this story to the magazines, several editors wrote back with their enthusiastic appreciation and said they are planning to feature it in their upcoming issues.
Therefore, how do you apply this concept to your own news stories, particularly if you do not have a charitable foundation? You must learn to think like an editor.
First, become a consumer of your city’s newspapers, magazines, blogs and broadcast media, as well as national trade publications. You will soon discover what trends and problems are dominating the headlines. Here are a few popular themes to get you started:
Employment and training
Government and regulations
The economy and small business issues
Social issues (feeding the hungry, supporting a cause or charity, etc.)
Next, research some statistics online that show the scope of the issue or problem. As you write your story, use your statistics to describe how important the issue is, the consequences it has for the public and why it demands attention.
Then demonstrate how your company is playing a role in the solution to this problem. Remember to lead with the issue first and then place your company’s contribution in the bottom half the story.
If you follow this formula, you will greatly increase your odds of landing in a feature article!