August 19, 2017

Start with a story

Anecdote makes a great lead

Anecdotes make your messages easier to believe, understand and remember. So use an anecdotal lead whenever possible to illustrate your key idea.

Anecdote makes a great lead

Once upon a time Take a tip from these Silver Anvil winners and tell me a story in your news release lead. Image by Clarisse Meyer

These leads from Silver Anvil Award-winning campaigns demonstrate the power of storytelling:

"Have you heard about the guy who mowed ‘Will You Marry Me?’ into his lawn? How about the practical joker who ‘accidentally’ dropped a fake diamond ring overboard, only to watch his girlfriend jump off their sailboat to retrieve it?"

— Korbel Champagne Cellars pitch

"Twenty-five years ago, on a holiday outing, a group of friends set off for dinner at a small country inn nestled in a quiet river town. As they rounded a bend in the road, they saw a small, quaint village, decorated for the holidays with lights that glowed on the fresh-fallen snow. This was the original inspiration for The Original Snow Village Collection — a nostalgic collection of lighted ceramic buildings that evoked memories of yesteryear."

— Department 56 release

"Even as the 200-foot giant mural was erected, Dallas resident Niki Eichman worried she might not be able to find her dog among the thousands of photographs.

"‘Buddy was hit by a car when he was very young,’ Eichman says of the 4-year-old Lab mix that shattered his pelvis and dislocated his elbow in the accident. ‘To this day, the only reason we can wrestle and play is because his veterinarian recognized his resulting arthritis and did something about it.’

"When she heard about a website this spring collecting stories of arthritic dogs to benefit canine arthritis research, Niki knew Buddy’s story should be included."

— Novartis Animal Health’s Deramaxx release

Learn techniques for writing better anecdotes.

  • Master the Anatomy of a News Release

    Tap current best practices, from lead to boilerplate

    Prose is architecture, Ernest Hemingway famously said. It’s not interior design.

    So: Are you building a compelling foundation for your media relations pieces? Or are you still using structural techniques you learned when you were 19?

    NOT Your Father's News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing Master Class in Chicago At NOT Your Father's PR Piece — a two-day PR-writing Master Class on May 18-19 in Chicago — you’ll learn to use a structure that’s been proven in the lab to grab readers’ attention, keep it for the long haul and leave a lasting impression.

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    • Decide between triangles, boxes or lists: Choose a structure that increases readership, engagement and sharing. (Hint: The structure you’re using now is probably doing the opposite.)
    • Steal a trick from The New York Times: Trade in your bloated fact packs for snappy synthesis leads.
    • Build a better benefits lead with our fill-in-the-blanks approach.
    • Avoid PR 101 leads: Still stuffing all those W’s and the H into the first paragraph? Still writing “XYZ Company today announces that …”? It’s time to move on to a more effective approach.
    • Beat the boilerplate blues: Here’s one way to stay off The Bad Pitch Blog.

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    Browse all upcoming Master Classes.

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