Features<br />Profiles, newsletters, and feature releases<br />
Features<br />Are considered “soft news”<br />Are not necessarily time-sensitive<br />Allow for more in-depth coverage and exploration of the subject<br />
Features<br />Are still written in journalistic style and inverted pyramid, but might have a feature (alternative) lead. <br />Alternative leads are often a short anecdote followed by the nut graf, which is essentially a summary news lead.<br />The alternative lead grabs the reader’s interest, and the nut graf summarizes the story.<br />
Types of Feature Articles<br />How-to<br />Historical<br />History of the organization, often to mark a significant event like an anniversary. <br />Profile<br />In-depth look at key personnel<br />Backgrounder<br />Provides background on the organization or a particular program, product or service<br />
Example<br />Time was, writing meant typewriting. Words like these—written on a television screen—were composed on the solid keyboard, banged noisily onto a piece of paper, XXXXXd out when they weren’t quite right, ripped out and scrapped when the paragraphs just didn’t work. <br /> It’s easier and faster with the computer, a reality that pushed Smith Corona Corp., the last big-name American typewriter manufacturer into bankruptcy on Wednesday. <br />Nut Graf------------<br />
Another alternative lead<br />From heirloom tomatoes to grass-fed beef, San Antonio chefs are livin’ la vidalocavore. The notion of cooking with product raised within spittin’ distance of the city has taken root in local hotel kitchens. Already known for culturally infused cuisine, San Antonio’s new fervor for local product is serving up some of the nation’s freshest and most creative dishes.<br />
Example<br />Sometimes features humanize a story by focusing on an individual. Consider this feature lead for a story about a new financial literacy program:<br />She earned $27,000 a year and owned 300 pairs of shoes. Now she’s paying for it.<br />The 24-year-old former manager of an Ann Taylor boutique plans to file for bankruptcy– one of a growing number of young adults who are so in over their heads financially that they’ve resorted to bankruptcy to bail themselves out.<br />
Example <br />We can also use direct address in a feature lead, but the body of the story then returns to third-person: <br />Picture this scenario. You’re walking along when you notice a poster for a Springsteen concert. So you grab your cell phone, aim it at a bar code on the poster, and are wirelessly connected to an online ticket agent.<br />
How do we use features in PR?<br />We distribute features to the media as we would a news release– with the same format as a news release but labeled as “Feature Release.”<br />We write feature articles for the organization’s newsletter.<br />
Newsletters<br />Benefits of newsletters:<br />Direct communication with target audience, without the input of the media<br />Boost employee or member morale <br />
Contents<br />Newsletters typically include recurring features, including:<br />A letter from the chief executive<br />News “in brief” <br />Department/division news<br />Profiles on employees and members<br />
Newsletters<br />Many newsletters are going online, but many organizations continue to produce hard copies of newsletters.<br />Some PR practitioners consider themselves “in-house journalists” because their primary role is reporting directly to the audience.<br />For examples of features and newsletters, please see Course Content.<br />
Writing the Profile: Interview tips<br />Be prepared with questions, but allow the interview to flow organically. <br />Avoid yes or no questions. <br />If you record your interview, you will still want to take notes (tech sometimes fails).<br />Get quotes from your subject. You can use direct quotes, partial quotes and paraphrasing for variety.<br />Confirm the spelling of his/her name (don’t assume) and the person’s title.<br />Sometimes by being silent for a beat, the interviewee will feel compelled to “fill the void.”<br />
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