Pointers to help communicate your message quickly, clearly and draw more traffic to your website.
Hard News & Soft News
Hard news is factual and relies on timeliness. Its purpose is to inform the reader. Soft news, does not need to be timely. Its purpose is to entertain the reader or give advice.
Use Descriptive Titles and Summaries
The terms you use in the title (headline) and summary of your news post can help draw traffic to your website. Incorporate keywords that someone is likely to use in an Internet search.
For example, do not a general title such as Student Presents Research, use Student Presents Research Microbiology.
Put News First
There’s a reason you’re posting news—make your point early and clearly. People tend to skim stories on the Web. When the news in the story is hard to find, readers may get frustrated and/or stop reading.
Answer: Who, What, When, Where, Why
And do it as early as possible in your news post. Best done in your first sentence or paragraph.
Use headings, short sections and short sentences to make your writing easy to digest.
Make sure to include background information is highlighted.
Use active voice whenever possible.
Edit each sentence to get rid of excess words. Sometimes it helps to set a goal of cutting 25 or 50 words or staying under a certain word count.
Use precise, specific language. Concrete words are better than abstract ones. For example, say “Jane has a 41% shooting percentage” instead of “Jane is a great shooter.”
Get rid of jargon. In some sports this is unavoidable, so if you must use jargon try to convey its meaning through the context.
Use bullet points to highlight information.
Get rid of clichés.
Note: It’s handy to have ready standard descriptions, often called boilerplates. You can paste them into your news posts whenever appropriate.
News Writing Inverted Pyramid
The inverted pyramid from college journalism classes works for the Web. News posts don’t have to be short, but keep the important details near the top, as many readers may not read to the end.
Include Links to Your Website & Key Pages
Make a quick link to your department/office website and any other helpful pages—for example, a hub page.
Note: Some readers may be have seen the post elsewhere on the Web via RSS feed, meaning they may need a link back to your website for more information.
Use Outside Link: to websites when helpful to viewer, but remember that may be leading them away from your website.
Don’t Use Jargon
Define terms, programs, or organizations the audiences may not know.
Avoid using acronyms and abbreviations to identify departments, offices, and programs. Examples: HPED, CHC, CDC, HDES. They’re not as recognizable as you may think.
Tips for Strong Soft News Article
Identify the “so what” of the piece. Why is this topic interesting to the reader?
Make sure to do your research. The more you know about the subject, the richer the story will be.
Soft news is a great way to get out your organization’s key messages. Does the story illustrate the good work your organization is doing?
Read newspapers & magazines to find examples of great soft news writing.
While it’s okay to use some stylistic flourishes in certain types of soft news articles, make sure to use good plain language techniques.
If you’re having trouble finding a structure for your article, try pretending that you are telling it to a friend.
As with a hard news article, remember to consider your audience. If your audience includes people outside of your community, consider how much these readers might know about your subject.