The Art Of News Writing For The Web
Matcha Design - Friday, March 22, 2013
You have an exciting event coming up at your business or organization and now you want to write an announcement for your website, but are stuck wondering how to begin. Well, writing a news announcement for your website doesn't need to be rocket science, but the key to effective writing is keeping it concise and focused. Here are some areas to keep in mind as you dive into your next news announcement:
First, know who you are writing for and generally what your readers like. Then ask yourself, " What makes this story interesting? What will people want to know?" Keep these questions in mind throughout the entire process to help guide your writing. Plus, do any necessary research to help write the story. For example, if you are offering a new product, research its benefits, features, and even try the product yourself.
Obtaining good quotes is pivotal to telling the story and giving your writing some "color". Determine the key people involved with the announcement, create a great list of questions and interview them for quotes. Readers like to hear firsthand from an expert. In PR writing, you may have to write quotes on behalf of another (for example your CEO/Director), but make sure you approve their quote with them before publishing. I like to gather all of my quotes first and get them on paper before writing more. Doing this helps frame the direction of the rest of my writing.
Ad man, David Ogilvy famously said, "On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar." This is where the practice of focused writing comes into play. Write a headline that pulls in the reader and has concise messaging. For example, the headline, "MANAGE YOUR MEDIA COLLECTION WITH BLUESPEED'S NEW KALEIDESCAPE" is easier to read and more focused than, "KEEP TRACK OF YOUR MOVIES AND MUSIC WITH BLUESPEED'S NEW KALEIDESCAPE". When you first start writing, jot down a loose headline; however, don't worry about getting it completely right because you will most likely revise the headline to match your finished announcement.
The first paragraph (or lead-in) is sometimes the only copy people will read, and it needs extra attention from you. The paragraphs in your announcement are not going to be the typical 3-5 sentences. They need to be shorter and more focused, with 1-3 sentences in each, and with quotes in separate paragraphs of their own. If you have a lot of information to present, you may want to use bold headers to break up the different sections; however, keep in mind that writing a long news announcement for your website is not the recommended approach. You want to avoid being long-winded, so consider cutting out irrelevant information or possibly writing a second announcement if you have a lot of topics to cover.
Generally a photo is the second element people look at, after the headline. Include a relevant picture to accompany your story, break up the copy, and entice people to read the full announcement. If you can't find the right photo to describe an abstract topic in your writing, explore using an illustration with captioning as a visual. For a nonprofit event announcement, make sure to have a variety of photos that include supporters, volunteers and participants. If you are launching a product, a picture of someone interacting with the new product is a great choice. Bottom line: photos enhance your story's interest and attract readers.
It is easy to have errors if you have been working on an article for an extended period of time. I suggest two rounds of edits at minimum. I usually do my first round on the computer and then print a copy off and read it carefully, word by word. Spell check will not catch all the errors; for example, if you accidentally put "witch" instead of "which". For every blog or news post we write, we have a second person read the article for clarity, because an outside reader can easily point out confusion with language and provide fresh ideas or information you may have overlooked.Lastly, before you publish online give it one last read to be thorough.
About Matcha Design
Matcha Design is a full-service creative agency specializing in web design, print, identity, branding, interface design, video production, still photography and motion design. Using our passion for excellence, multi-cultural background, and award winning practices, we consistently provide high-quality, custom, innovative solutions to meet the diverse marketing needs of our clients. For more information, visit www.MatchaDesign.com.