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Creating News Features and Op-Ed Chapter 7. Value of News Features Regular news releases usually emphasize the timely disclosure of basic information.

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Presentation on theme: "Creating News Features and Op-Ed Chapter 7. Value of News Features Regular news releases usually emphasize the timely disclosure of basic information."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creating News Features and Op-Ed Chapter 7

2 Value of News Features Regular news releases usually emphasize the timely disclosure of basic information about situations and events In contrast, features stories can provide additional background information, generate human interest, and create understanding in a more imaginative way

3 New President Example A new company president is appointed The news release would give the basic information in a few paragraphsname, brief summary of professional career– all pretty dry stuff A feature could give the new president more of a human dimension Could focus on management philosophy, college experiences, hobbies, interests, and vision of the future Such an article could run 1,500 words instead of 250

4 Soft Versus Hard News Features are considered soft rather than hard news Less time-sensitive They entertain, provide background, and give consumer tips They often show up in specialty sections of the daily newspaperentertainment, food, business, real estate, automotive, technology And most come from public relations sources

5 Service Journalism This is the concept of publishing or broadcasting consumer tips and news you can use Key components are demonstrating to readers/viewers how they can save time, make more money, save money, or get something for free In other words stress Whats in it for me? If public relations professionals keep this axiom in mind, the print media will be more than happy to use their material

6 Planning a News Feature Creative thinking is needed Conceptualize how something lends itself to feature treatment Determine if the information would be interesting to and useful for a particular audience You must, at the same time, be sure that the feature helps achieve organizational objectives Does it position the organization in a favorable light? Does it encourage the use of a particular product or service?

7 Ways to Proceed Most common approachwrite a general feature and distribute it to a variety of publications in similar way news releases are sent and posted on an organizations website Have a feature service distribute it for you as text or camera-ready that includes headlines, photos, and stories prepared for newspaper columns/pages (see example p. 165)

8 More Ways to Proceed Write an exclusive feature for a specific publication– need to target a publication that reaches your selected audience Familiarize yourself with such a publication, then phone the editor, outline the subject in about 60 seconds, and ask if she/he would be interested Or send a letter that explains the idea in a way that would interest the editor

9 Submit a Proposal From your query call or note, the editor may ask you to submit a proposal This would include such points as: Tentative title of the article Subject and theme Significancewhy important/significant? Major points Description of photos and graphics available

10 Other Approaches Dont write the feature yourself but instead give the story idea to a journalist Make a pitch in hopes a journalist will develop the story, with your help Advantage this way is that publications staff invests time and money in the story and will be more likely to public it Disadvantage is that you lose content control A final approach is to simply post the feature on your organizations website for possible downloading by journalists and consumers HP 2009 Feature Stories: Current feature stories

11 Types of Features Case Study/Application Story- product publicity; how consumers/businesses benefit by using product(s) Research Study- surveys, polls, studies Backgrounder- different types such as focusing on a problem and how it was solved by an organization or a product Personality Profile- highlight movers and shakers or unique, interesting employees Historical Piece- anniversaries, major changes, milestones and other events lend themselves to these. Stressing organizations history can lend it an air of stability and permanence

12 Parts of a Feature Headline- informational or play on words The Lead- try to intrigue, appeal to curiosity. The lead is a promise; it tells people that they will learn something that will be beneficial to them The Body- dont have to stick with inverted pyramid formulahave direct quotes from people, concrete examples/illustrations, statistics and research findings, descriptive words that paint mental pictures, information presented in an entertaining way The Summary- end with core message that the writer wants to leave with the reader Photos and Graphics- these visuals give more appeal; infographics- computer-generated artwork that attractively displays simple tables and charts

13 Placement Opportunities Boundless– In its database, Bacons Media Directory has more than 100,000 media outlets and 900,000 editors, broadcasters, freelance writers, syndicated columnists and bloggers Your challenge is to figure out what kind of publication would be most interested in your feature story Print media– newspapers, general magazines, specialty/trade magazines, internal publications

14 Writing an Op-Ed The term op-ed means opposite the editorial page and started with the New York Times in 1970 The purpose is present a variety of views on current news events, government policies, pending legislation, and social issues

15 PR Perspective with Op-Eds They provide an excellent opportunity for individuals and organizations to reach an audience of readers, an audience that tends to be opinion leaders and influentials One way for an organization executive to become a spokesperson or thought leader for a particular industry cause is write and place multiple op-ed pieces

16 Competitive Placements Most prestigious op-ed pages are those in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the Financial Times They regularly carry op-eds written by former U.S. presidents, senators, ambassadors, CEOs of major corps. WSJ receives 500-700 op-ed articles a month and has the space for only a few

17 Media Seek Fresh Insights While your PR employer or client may not be as prominent, editorial page editors are always looking for fresh insights from anyone who has expertise or a new perspective on a topic of current public concern Write op-eds that have a current news angle to increase acceptance chances

18 Op-Ed Format By definition op-eds are short and to the point They normally run 400-750 words which are two-to-three typed double-spaced pages Start with a catchy lead sentence or paragraph Second graf should explain further what you said in the lead or first paragraph Make your point in the third graf Use the next several grafs to support your point- logically and with verifiable stats and quotes from experts Wrap it all up with a concluding graf that clearly ties back to the key point(s) made earlier See Writing the Perfect Op-Ed on p. 183

19 Letters to the Editor Considered the next best thing to op-eds Generally they are used to challenge a previous editorial or news story, to add information not included in a previous story, or to applaud or criticize someone or some organization Keep them short, a letter with 200 words or fewer has a better use chance

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