Feature writing tips

You can get coverage in the media by offering to supply target publications or blogs with written articles. This might be an opinion piece about something in the news or a feature that shares yours or your customers’ experience of dealing with a particular issue which would be of interest to their readers.

If you are asked to write a feature, here are some tips for planning and getting started.

What’s it all about?

Your feature needs to have a main idea that the entire article is based around. Asking a question such as how can a school tackle bullying or how can local government save money through shared services will grab the reader’s attention and they’ll want to know the answer. A strong idea will keep the readers interested.

Establishing a main idea also helps you to pick out relevant information from any research and interviews you carry out.

The hook

Hook the reader in the introduction with interesting facts and figures. These could be linked to a recent news story or research relating to your main idea.

Keeping the reader interested

In his book “The Art and Craft of Feature Writing”, William E Blundell suggests that the main body of the story should be a series of information blocks organised by subject. If your feature is about an increase in anti-social behaviour, one block may be about the impact of the recession and another about the different types of anti-social behaviour.

Here are some ideas for different blocks as suggested by Blundell:

• History: What’s the background to this situation?
• Scope: What’s the extent of the problem?
• Cause: Why is this happening?
• Impact: Who and what is affected by this?
• Action of contrary forces: Who is doing what about this?
• The future: How is it going to be in coming days, weeks, months and years?

Which blocks you include or in what order is up to you but it’s often easier for the reader if you have a sub-heading for each to break it up.

Back up statements

Make sure you include plenty of examples and anecdotes.  For example, a feature about staff motivation should include examples of benefits that have been introduced and their impact, as below:

‘When we began offering free gym membership to employees, we noticed a 10% reduction in employee absence. Three of our staff who were renowned for turning up late started to arrive on time and many employees commented that joining the gym had increased their energy at work!’

The conclusion

This is the point where you need to answer the question or main idea posed at the beginning of the article. If your article is about using technology to raise results in maths, it should summarise how you achieved this and the benefits – that maths results had improved by xx%, for example. Your conclusion could also look to the future and how the new policy is to be extended.

If you plan and write your feature using the guidelines above, you will find the end article requires a lot less redrafting.   It will also help you produce an article that the journalist will be happy to publish.

I hope you’ve found these tips useful.  If you have any other planning tips, please let me know.

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  • About the Author

    My focus is on achieving great coverage for our clients and the best part of my day is talking with journalists and bloggers. I am the company’s education blogger expert and spend a lot of my time researching what it is that makes them tick. My background in teaching helps me to think from a teacher’s perspective when developing PR ideas and writing for our clients in the education sector. Outside of work I like to run, play the piano and have fun with my kids.

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