Do you find yourself pressed for time on most days? Chances are so is your target audience, including journalists.
Most reporters and editors today are either too busy to read an entire press release or not motivated enough. The statistics show you only have 3.5 seconds to get their attention. So it’s important to spark their interest in the beginning of your release with a good lede. (Yes, it’s called lede, not lead!)
That way there’s more of a chance your release will get read – and that
the reporter will contact you.
Follow these guidelines and expect to grab a journalist’s attention:
- The lede sentence should include the most important information in
less than 25 words. You want to make sure that your lede is merely a summary of what the release will include.
- Don’t guess that your reporter knows what your talking about from
the headline. Although many may understand what the gist of the release is about by reading the headline, there are still those who may need a more detailed explanation.
- There should not be any advertising or propaganda in the lede. Any
exaggeration just adds unnecessary length to your lede – and it just shouldn’t be in a release to begin with.
- The lede paragraph includes the who, what, when, where and how of the story. Once you answer the main questions, then you have everything you need to write the rest.
- The lede needs to be bold so that it communicates effectively. Draw the interest of the reader and make them feel like they have enough information if they only read the lede. The key is to make them want to keep reading by catching their attention early on.
- When it comes to word usage, less is more. The best thing you can do to communicate effectively is cut down the jargon. If your message is hidden behind a lot of complicated terminology, you will most likely lose a reporter’s interest.
- WIIFM? Think of the lede this way: it’s a few words explaining what the story is about – and why should the reader care.
- Think of the audience. Ledes can – and should – be different for each target audience.
- Don’t stall the point – get right to it. Don’t bury the lede with lots of added muck. Use active words to keep it moving.
Are ledes difficult for you to write? Ask some questions in the comment section and I’ll try to help you.