The Dos and Don’ts to Writing an Effective Lede
Most public relations professionals are already familiar with the fact that they have to create attention-grabbing stories to get any sort of media coverage. However, the first sentences of the story are the most important aspect when creating one.
These first couple of sentences are where all of the facts are stated, the mood is set for the rest of the story, and they are the best way to grab the readers’ attention. When done right, PR professionals are able to capture the entire gist of the story and explain to the reader why that story matters, in just a few sentences.
However, when they’re not written properly, the reader is going to abandon the page, open up a new website, and potentially completely lose interest in the company and its products or services.
Types of Lede
There are two main types of lede – the summary lede, which is often found in news reports; and the creative lede, which is created to grab the readers’ attention and draw them in the story itself. There is also another variation that lies somewhere between these two types, which is a question lede, which is, essentially, opening the story with a question. However, many professionals avoid using this type, as the goal is to give answers to the reader, not to ask more questions.
When writing the lede, it’s essential to cater it both to the target audience, as well as the media outlet. However, the two most important elements when writing a lede is to write in an inverted pyramid style, and include the most essential information – the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the entire story.
Next, the type of lede that PR professionals decide to write largely depends on several key factors. Those factors include the target audience, which means the story and the lede should be tailored to those who will be reading the story. Another key factor is the media outlet or publication where the story is going to be distributed. Different outlets have different guidelines and rules for writing and language use, and they should be followed.
And finally, there’s the topic of the story – while some topics allow for more creativity in the writing, others should only cover the facts and events that have unfolded.
Writing a Lede
When writing a lede for a story, the first step is to determine the hook of the story, which includes the most essential information about it. To determine the hook, PR professionals should determine which information is most important and relevant. The next step is to be concise and clear and to write in an active voice.
Then, the readers should always be addressed using the second person – “you” as opposed to any other pronoun or person, so that the reader understands they’re being spoken to directly.
Some of the things that are important to remember that cliches and too much information should always be avoided. Avoiding those, along with any grammar and spelling mistakes, as well as not making the reader work hard to find the information, should result in a good lede.