How to find your features story
Published on November 5th, 2009 by Dagmar King
As print media struggle to compete with other news sources such as blogs and online outlets, feature stories are growing in popularity because they attract and engage readers. Some newspapers are even writing news stories in “features style” to lend a human element to breaking events. And these ready-to-go stories are boons for overworked journalists, especially if they include photos and illustrations.
A features story, in contrast to breaking news, is often used to fill news holes and satisfy consumer demand for subjects that matter to them such as travel, health, family, pets, personal finance, home and garden, and holiday gift buying. Right now is a great time to take advantage of the holiday buying season.
So how do you make a features story work for you – even if your organization sells B2B? Take a look at content you already have – you can probably find a way to slant or refocus your messages to give them mass appeal. Consider the following formats:
- Human Interest and Personal Stories – Spotlight your customers’ or employees’ personal experiences, achievements or concerns
- How-to Articles – Help non-experts learn how to do something, perhaps through a step-by-step approach
- Service Articles – Give advice to consumers so they can make informed decisions
- Seasonal or Themed Stories – Showcase your product or service in a holiday gift guide, or use a holiday or themed promotion
- Evergreen Stories – Create timeless articles that can be used at any time with little or no updating
Here are a few tips on writing a features release:
- Use an attention-getting headline and lead
- Write your release like an article, summing up details in the second paragraph (source, stats, URL) so if the story gets cut this information won’t get lost
- Use bullet points (“top ten” lists)
- Take a “McNews” approach (sound bites, quotes from engaging spokespeople)
- Use visuals – especially photos and captions
- Don’t include a boilerplate
Now is the time to flex your creative muscles. A features release can be a great catalyst to your PR program and even expand your organization’s business horizons. Check out Marketwire’s Features Newsline page for more ideas and information.