Writing the Lead: Tips and Tricks to Make your Press Release Lead Stand Out
Writing a lead has one purpose: to grab both the reporter’s and the readers’ attention. It should provide everything the reporter needs to know about the story while attracting the readers’ attention. So, how do you know what to put in the lead and what to leave out? First of all, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. What would you immediately want to know about the story? Most likely, you would want the basic facts and fast, and that’s why the 5Ws are always contained in the lead. The who, what, when, where, and why are ALWAYS in the lead because they are the details that draw the reader into the story and pique the interest of the reporter. Let’s be clear about what the 5Ws should answer…READ MORE….
- Who: Who are the people or companies impacted? Who is launching the product or service?
- What: What is the product or service? What is the news?
- When: When is it going to be launched? When does it become effective?
- Where: Where is the product or service available? In which geographical area will the launch/news take place?
- Why: Why is this news important?
Your lead answers these questions, so what now? Before you’re done with your lead and onto the body of your news release, it’s important to check your work. A few more things to do before finishing your lead:
- Reread your lead out loud. This helps you catch any confusing sentences or missing words.
- Don’t be too vague. The lead is about being precise.
- Remove unnecessary words or phrases. Be critical about what you need and what you don’t need in the lead.
- Ensure all facts, statistics, and data are accurate and all words are spelled correctly.
Now you’re ready to embark on writing the body of your press release, but before you do, skim the three sample leads below.
*FARGO, N.D., Oct. 1, 2008 — Last summer, Danny Short Jr. and his wife, both of Fargo, N.D. went on a search for a strawberry patch. What should have been less than a half-hour hike turned into a three-hour expedition because it was difficult to find the way – something that could have been avoided with the help of a Global Positioning System (GPS)? This got Mr. Short thinking about buying one of these gadgets … then the next thing he knew, he was dreaming of launching a website devoted to the sale of such small electronics and gizmos, specific to outdoor adventure.
*MIAMI, Sept. 8, 2008 — With rumblings of doom and gloom in the business world, Park Capital Group LLC (http://www.parkcapitalgroup.com) is a breath of fresh air. The Miami-based private equity firm is intent on investing $1 billion in business and real estate developments over the next year.
*WOODINVILLE, Wash., Nov. 15, 2007 — What do Salt Works’ sea salts have in common with Oreos? They’ve been granted the enviable Certified Kosher designation by the highly respected global entity Orthodox Union. This is a great victory for kosher-eating gourmets, as "kosher" and "sea salt" rarely exist on the same label.