Friday, October 21, 2011

How to write a news article

In an ideal web world, every website would have a “News Module”. A news module is a place where a website visitor can keep up to date with what’s new with the site owner, the website business or business progress. Having a news or blog section on your website isn’t just useful for your website visitors; search engines (especially Google) absolutely love it. Search Engines love fresh, unique content that has relevance to the overall 'reason for being' of the website.

Many people struggle with what to talk about in their News. We advise that on launch of a new website, a business work with the Flashlight Search Marketing Team to scope out at least a dozen news articles for the coming year. Another common question is how long does the news article need to be and how do I write them.

To answer the first question; the length really depends on your target market, short sharp bursts of “Title: Local Coverage “We are featured in the daily paper this week, page 4, we are talking about XYX”” will do. The best news stories will also have a call to action. “We are featured on page XYZ talking about XXX, if you want to find out more before Tuesday then please call us on...”

How you write the news article could depend on the tone of voice for your company. As you read this blog post, you will note that it is quite informal and easy to digest. We are more formal in our news and give mention to targets and objectives. Please view our Rocktime news here and see if you can spot the different style.

Fiona, Communications at Rocktime, has worked with a number of Rocktime clients on the development of their news. She has written a rough template for news creation, and would like to share it with you here, to assist you in the creation of your company news.

Template for News Creation

Follow the below to help put your news story together.

Give consideration to:

Short, sharp, eye catching, optimised, with a `flavour` of the story.

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Think of the questions:

Any good news story provides answers to each of these questions.

* Who is the story about?
* What is the story about?
* Where is the story based?
* When is the story happening? Are there any other important time factors?
* Why is this interesting? Who is it interesting to?
* How are they going to make a difference?

Keep it relevant

Keep the news on topic, keep it focused for SEO benefits and don’t forget those internal and external links.
Note: I sometimes make 'external links' open in a new window, keeping the visitor on the website and 'internal links' open in the same window; the visitor can use the back button to navigate. This is a preference not a rule. If my consideration is focused on accessibility, I would not dictate opening new windows; for best practice I would leave it to the visitor to choose.

Other essential considerations

Which image will you use?

What is your call to action?

Introducing the Inverted Pyramid

If the news is for a press publication, consider ‘The Inverted Pyramid’

This refers to the style of journalism which places the most important facts at the beginning and works "down" from there. Ideally, the first paragraph should contain enough information to give the reader a good overview of the entire story. The rest of the article explains and expands on the beginning.

A good approach is to assume that the story might be cut off at any point, due to space limitations for instance. Does the story work if the editor only decides to include the first two paragraphs? If not, re-arrange it so that it does.

The same principle can apply to any type of medium.

More Tips on news creation

* It's About People
News stories are all about how people are affected. In your story, you might spend some time focusing on one or more individuals, or on how the team is doing, or how they are feeling.
* Have an Angle
Most stories can be presented using a particular angle or "slant". This is a standard technique and isn't necessarily bad; it can help make the purpose of the story clear and give it focus. Examples of angles you could use for your story:
"Team tackles difficult survey"
"Timeline of a long service award"
"Local Company Wins Global Account”

* Keep it Objective
You are completely impartial. If there is more than one side to the story, cover them all. Don't use "I" and "me" unless you are quoting someone.
Speaking of quoting...

* Quote People
For example: "We're really excited about this award," says xxxx, "It's the highest target we've ever set ourselves".

* Don't Get Flowery
Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Don't use lots of heavily descriptive language. When you've finished, go through the entire story and try to remove any words which aren't completely necessary.

Our Call to action

We mentioned above that a 'call to action' in a news story is important, they are also important in blog posts too; even if you just give the visitor a reason to engage with you i.e. leave a comment.
This blog post's call to action is as follows:
Should you require assistance with News Creation, News SEO Optimisation, News Campaign Planning, which also gives consideration to seeding out the news, then please get in contact with Fiona at Rocktime, who will happily supply you with a Flashlight Search Marketing quote and consultancy guide.

We hope you like out quirky image, which pays homage to 'Drop the Dead Donkey'

Authors: Sarah Griffiths and Fiona Anderson


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