August 19, 2017

Boxes and arrows

Hybrid story forms go beyond news and features

“When you have news, report it,” advises Roy Peter Clark, Poynter Institute senior scholar. “When you have a story, tell it.”

But what if you have both?

Some stories don’t fit into the traditional boxes and triangles of the inverted pyramid news structure or the feature-style story structure. That’s where hybrid story structures come in.

Feature-news release hybrid

I’ve noticed one new structure in press releases recently. It has a feature head and an inverted pyramid tail. The beauty of this beast is that it brings the story to life at the top with a feature leadnut graph and background section. Then, once it’s attracted the reader’s attention and established the story, it delivers the details in a hierarchical, most-important-to-least-important body.

Use it when you have a story that would benefit from a feature lead but that needs a just-the-facts-ma’am resolution.

Boxes and arrows

DRIVE A HYBRID When the inverted pyramid's not enough, try this news-feature release structure.

  • Go Beyond the Inverted Pyramid

    Our old friend the inverted pyramid hasn’t fared well in recent research.

    According to new studies by such think tanks as The Readership Institute and The Poynter Institute, inverted pyramids: 1) Reduce readership and understanding; 2) Fail to make readers care about the information; and 3) Don’t draw readers across the jump. In short, researchers say, inverted pyramids “do not work well with readers.”

    Catch Your Readers - Ann Wylie's persuasive-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017 imageAt Catch Your Readers — a two-day Master Class on Nov. 16-17 in Kansas City — you’ll learn a structure that can increase readership, understanding and satisfaction with your message. Specifically, you’ll learn:

    • How to organize your message to grab readers’ attention, keep it for the long haul and leave a lasting impression.
    • Three elements of a great lead — and five leads to avoid.
    • How to stop bewildering your readers by leaving out an essential paragraph. (Many communicators forget it).
    • Five ways to avoid the “muddle in the middle”.
    • A three-step test for ending with a bang.

    Learn more about the Master Class.

    Register for Catch Your Readers - Ann Wylie's persuasive-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017

    Browse all upcoming Master Classes.

    Would you like to hold an in-house Catch Your Readers workshop? Contact Ann directly.

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