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The Most Important Sentence In a News Release
Journalists call it the lead. The first sentence in a news story. The same term is used for news releases. Well written news releases, that truly contain news, are written in journalistic style. A editor or reporter reading a news release will decide from that first sentence whether the release is worth following up on, or should be tossed.
What Should Be In a Lead?
The most important information belongs in the lead. A person should be able to read the lead and understand what the news release is about and why it's newsworthy. The lead should identify the who, what, where, when and why of the story. The rest of the news release elaborates on the information in the lead.
How Long Is a Lead?
A lead is a one sentence paragraph. There are exceptions to this, but they usually apply to feature writing. The challenge in writing a good lead is the need to be short, concise and interesting. A lead that runs three or four lines on a letter size sheet of paper is long. It's best for a lead to be no more than two lines. Shorter than that is preferable, providing all the pertinent information is included.
Keep Working At It
The lead is the most difficult part of the news release to write. You may need to try several attempts at crafting a lead before you write one that works. It's not unusual, when I write a news release, to spend half the time working on the lead.
Samples Next Month
I'll continue the discussion about leads in next month's PR Tip of the Month. I'll show examples of poor leads and how to improve them.