Chapter 7: Creating News Features and Op-Ed

This information is found in PUBLIC RELATION WRITING AND MEDIA TECHNIQUES, 6th edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox 

The Value of Features:

  • Feature Story – can provide additional background information, generate human interest, and create understanding in a more imaginative way.
  • News release writing requires left-brain skills emphasizing that logical, analytical, and sequential development of ideas.
  • Feature writing requires right-brain skills, such as intuition, image-making, and creativity.
  • Features are considered “soft-news” rather than “hard-news.”
  • Feature stories have the potential to:
    • Provide more information to the consumer
    • Give background and context about organizations
    • Provide behind-the-scene perspectives
    • Give a human dimension to situations and events
    • Generate publicity for standard products and services
  • Service Journalism – the concept of publishing consumer tips and “news you can use”
    • Can demonstrate how a reader can:
      • Save time
      • Make more money
      • Save money
      • Get something free

Planning a News Feature:

  • You have to conceptualize how something lends itself to feature treatment.
  • You have to determine if the information would be interesting to and useful for a particular audience.
  • You must be sure that the feature helps achieve organizational objectives.
  • A proposal should include:
    • Tentative titles of the article
    • Subject and theme
    • Significance – why is the topic important and what should a reader know about it?
    • Major points
    • Description of photos and graphics available

Types of Features:

  • Case Study – in feature writing, a story that demonstrates the value of a product or service by detailing how it works and by providing specific examples that are often supported with statistics or customer testimonials.
  • Application Story – in feature writing, a story that tells how to use a new product or how to use a familiar product in a new way.
  • Research Study – in feature writing, a story that uses information derived from surveys, polls, or scientific studies to garner reader interest and to demonstrate the value of a product or service.
  • Backgrounder – a compilation of information about an organization, a problem, a situation, an event, or a major development. It is given to media to provide a factual basis for news to be published or broadcast.
  • Personality Profile – in feature writing, a story that focuses on a person of public interest to stimulate reader awareness of that person and/or the organization, product, or service the person represents.
  • Historical Piece – in feature writing, a story that stresses the continuity between past and present to garner reader interest.

Parts of a Feature:

  • The headline
  • The lead
  • The body
  • The summary
  • Photos and graphics

Placement Opportunities:

  • Newspapers
  • General magazines
  • Specialty/trade magazines
  • Internal publications

Writing an Op-Ed:

  • Definition – opposite the editorial page. A page that contains the views and opinion of individuals who are not on the staff of the newspaper.
  • Concentrate on presenting one major ideas at a time.
  • Don’t ramble or deviate from your principal points.

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Filed under Chapter Notes, PRCA 3330

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