Sensus goes to the science museum

Use the feature structure for emailed invitations

Sensus goes to the science museum

Midnight at the museum Focus on what people will be able to do at your event, not on the event itself. Image by Samuel Zeller

When I teach the feature-style story structure, communicators nod. It seems reasonable that readers would prefer concrete, creative stories to a hierarchical blurtation of facts.

BUT — and as Pee-Wee Herman said, there’s always a big but — they wonder, is the feature-style story structure for everything? Even emails? Even event invites?

Yes, Virginia, the feature-style story structure works for almost everything — emails included, event invites include. And here’s proof, thanks to Sarah Herr, employee communications manager at Sensus.

Sarah and her team have brought me in for two Master Classes this year, so these folks are serious about using best practices for reaching readers.

Which of these parties would you rather attend?

In our most recent workshop, Sarah was working on the Sensus holiday party invitation. Here’s where she started:

Reserve your spot at the Sensus Holiday Party and experience the event in a whole new venue this year! Based on your feedback, we’ve moved from a country club setting and into the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.

During the event you will have run of the entire new portion of the museum, complete with science displays on three levels. While you mingle, enjoy drinks, live music and heavy hors d’oeuvres and carving stations.

But the key to a good invitation lead is to make folks want to attend the event. So tell them what they can look forward to in a concrete feature lead.

How would you find a feature lead for this story? I suggested that Sarah visit my BFF and research assistant, Google, to find out what her colleagues could do at the science museum.

Within minutes, Sarah has rewritten her piece:

Take a ride thousands of feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, touch a stone that’s traveled through space for millions of years or find out just how much DNA you and “Fido” have in common. Do all this and more at the Sensus Holiday Party!

We’ve moved from a country club setting and into the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. During the event you will have run of all four floors of the new Nature Research Center, complete with interactive science exhibits and dioramas. While you mingle, enjoy drinks, live music and heavy Hors d’oeuvres and carving stations.

Need a last minute Christmas gift? Be sure to enter the prize raffle — or pick up a gift at the museum store. The store has bugs encased in candy, fossils and models interesting enough for the scientist in all of us.

Features work for virtually all media, channels, topics and audiences. Why not make your next message — email invites included — more creative and compelling with a feature-style story structure?

  • Go Beyond the Pyramid

    Master a story structure that’s been proven in the lab to reach more readers

    Writers say, “We use the inverted pyramid because readers stop reading after the first paragraph.” But in new research, readers say, “We stop reading after the first paragraph because you use the inverted pyramid.”

    Go Beyond the Pyramid in Dallas

    Indeed, our old friend the inverted pyramid hasn’t fared well in recent studies. Studies by the Poynter Institute, Reuters Institute and the American Society of News Editors show that the traditional news structure reduces readership, understanding, sharing, engagement and more.

    Grab readers’ attention, pull them through the piece and leave a lasting impression.

    The pyramid doesn’t work well, these researchers say, with a little subset of your audience we call “humans.”

    At Catch Your Readers — our two-day hands-on persuasive-writing master class on Oct. 2-3 in Dallas — you’ll master a structure that’s been proven in the lab to grab readers’ attention, pull them through the piece and leave a lasting impression. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

    • Grab reader attention with a lead that’s concrete, creative and provocative — and avoid making readers’ eyes glaze over by using one of the seven deadly leads.
    • Stop bewildering your readers by leaving out an essential paragraph. (Many communicators forget this entirely.)
    • Avoid the “muddle in the middle” by choosing one of five structural techniques from a rubric created by the founder of TED Talks.
    • Draw to a satisfying conclusion in the penultimate paragraph.
    • End with a bang, not a whimper by using our three-step test.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!


Free writing tips
  • Get tips, tricks & trends for Catching Your Readers
  • Learn to write better, easier & faster
  • Discover proven-in-the-lab writing techniques