Breaking into a newspaper can be a difficult prospect. Every day, reporters and editors are pitched from a broad range of sources for ideas that range widely from the extremely newsworthy to the ridiculous. With all of this competition for what it a very limited amount of space, the chances of getting your story before the subscribers eyes can be slim. To circumvent this problem, you can concentrate on a certain type of story. A story that speaks to a certain audience but isn’t necessarily timely. This type of story is called a feature and it can be the greatest thing that ever happened to your business.
A feature is designed to be a fully developed, in depth look at a certain topic that doesn’t need to correspond to the big news of the day. Under ideal circumstances, the story could be published today, tomorrow, or a year from now with the same effect. Unlike a press release, which gives the outlines of a happening that invites a reporter to dig under the surface to find the story, a feature is to be used just as it was sent in. Of course, after acceptance a newspaper has the right to edit it to fit the space available or leave out the content seen as superfluous.
The topics for a feature range as broadly as those for any other type of story. Health and home improvement are particularly good topics for a feature because they are subjects people are interested in on an ongoing basis. If your business lends itself to one of these topics, or to the topics of travel or technology, it would lend itself just as well to a feature story. These stories also have the advantage of being used in supplementary portions of a newspaper, such as the lifestyle section or one of the special Sunday sections. If you can get your feature in to one of these, it would be twice the bargain, as it has been shown that people have more time to pursue the paper on a leisurely Sunday than any other day of the week, meaning more eyes on your story and more time to digest the content.
In order to make your feature something a newspaper will want to publish, here are a few secrets of the trade to help you better sell your content. For one, you’ll want to have an attention grabbing headline. Lacking this, the editor will create one of their own design, but will they have as much personal interest in getting people to read the story as you have? Likely not. The headline may in fact be the most important aspect of your story. Ask yourself some questions about the article, and find a headline that answers these questions in a way that summarizes the meat of the article. If you can make it clever and witty, so much the better. But don’t try to get too cute. No one likes that. Finally, the content itself should be written in a style similar to the other articles in the paper. Review an issue or two and create your article with those templates in mind.
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