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This week our teacher had us do a LeadLab course online to learn more about writing leads. Here are some basic tips I learned from the course.

  • A lead should be a summary.
  • Use the five w’s when writing leads – who, what, when, where and why
  • The most important newsworthy information goes first.
  • The lead tells the reader what the focus of the article will be about.

I thought this lead course was a good overview of writing leads. It also forced me to focus more on the content of the leads that I write. However, because the course is short and only online, I felt like I needed more practice after I finished the exercises.

I am also in a news, reporting and writing course this semester. We get plenty of practice writing leads. One thing I learned that I think is important to include has to do with structure. Since you always put the most newsworthy information first, do not start with when. A lead should usually go who did what. When should only begin the lead when it makes a story more interesting.

 

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A news release allows PR professionals to get their stories out to the media. The news release puts the information in a format that editors can easily understand. The news release is even written just like a news story. Some news releases might even be put directly in the paper as a story with few to no changes.

When planning a news release be sure to answer these questions:

  • What is the subject of the message? What is the focus?
  • Who is the message designed for?
  • What do you want to achieve.
  • What goal is the organization pursuing; what is the purpose?
  • What is in it for this particular audience? Potential benefits/rewards?
  • What key messages should be highlighted in the news release?

Like I mentioned earlier a news release is written in the same format as the news story. This is usually inverted pyramid. The most important information comes at the beginning of the story. Here are six basic components of a news release:

  1. letterhead – the companies logo for instance
  2. contacts – who to contact to get more information about the news release
  3. headline – a catchy title
  4. dateline  – date
  5. lead paragraph – the most important information (a summary lead most often)
  6. body of text – some more basic information about the topic descending in order of importance

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