It is often quite a challenge to give a story that special spin that will make the narrative outstanding and noteworthy. As copywriters, we are customarily provided with an information brief that already includes a specific angle. While we can always provide advice on the best way to shape an article or press release, this task usually rests with our clients.
As readers, we tend to screen out or quickly forget pieces of news that do not add anything special to our general knowledge or address our personal interests. Bland press releases that offer nothing but a litany of hard data or facts would fall into that category.
The good news is that a systematic approach to finding the right angle exists. In this article, we go through 10 tactics that will allow you to list and identify the best possible ways to light up your story. Hopefully, after learning these tips, you will find it much easier in the future to come up with an inspiring theme.
Why is finding the right angle so important?
Irrespectively of the subject of your story, chances are your target audience will already have read something similar, be it an article from one of your competitors or a piece written by a company operating in a related industry. As writers, we must step in our readers’ shoes and wonder: what does this piece offer? How unique and original is the content? Is it entertaining, informative, or useful?
The right approach is to first identify how your story can meet these expectations, and the key to this approach is to find a way to present information in an inventive fashion. Facts are a given, but how you manage to deftly bind them together is what can truly differentiate a dull report from a compelling read.
These 10 tactics unveil new possibilities for your writing
1. Is your article newsworthy?
The first question to answer is whether your story offers something new. Issuing a cover-all press release about your company’s services is not news; writing about a new product launch is. Listing your company’s many awards over the last 10 years is not news; covering a recently awarded contract is. Discussing the positive impact of renewable power on our environment is not news; achieving a new milestone in reducing carbon emissions is.
2. Is your article relevant?
The second question is to determine what is in it for your readers. There must be at least one key aspect of the story that prompts them to pay attention and read through it. If you know your target audience for this piece well, you should be able to work backwards from their likely characteristics, circumstances and probably personal interests what would draw them to read your article in full. For instance, if you are introducing a new mobile platform for your services and your target audience consists of young professionals, you may want to emphasize how this new offering will enable users to access their accounts anytime, anywhere from their devices.
3. What is the expected impact?
The third question is to establish the expected impact your article will have on its readers. After all, why write a piece if not to trigger any reaction? Will your readers develop an interest in a revolutionary new product? Will they visit your website to learn more about a certain service you are offering? Will the article help build brand awareness? One common tactic is to include a specific call-to-action in your article, such as: “Learn how [company] can help you diversify your investment portfolio”.
4. Incorporate interesting facts
Among all the facts that form the bedrock of your story, one or more can be especially worthy of attention and catchy. It may be an eye-opening statistic or a little-known truth that goes contrary to intuition. Those can make for a compelling headline and help you put an entirely new spin on your article. Let us say you represent a health supplements manufacturer and are writing about a new product: it may be worth dotting your piece with references to a particular study that emphasizes the long-term health benefits of its key ingredients.
5. Being first
While this an obvious theme for articles introducing new and innovative products, being first at something may also be a strong angle for any story. It does not always have to be a spectacular achievement: if you are writing about your company’s research efforts in a certain area, you may consider mentioning being the first in your industry to proceed with a pilot project, no matter how small the project is.
6. Being special
Are you running your organization in a way that is unique? Are you offering your customers special privileges that none of your competitors has thought of? Being original is a great opportunity to help you stand apart from your peers, and will boost both your story’s coverage and your company’s image.
7. Put it into context
Take note of recent events that have affected either your readers, your industry, or the world at large, and set your story against this backdrop. This tactic will make your story relevant to most of your audience and will build on conversations that are already taking place on such hot topic. If the US Federal Reserve anticipates several rate increases this year, and you are a property developer commenting on the Hong Kong real estate market, your headline might be: “Despite Fed Hikes, Property Market to Remain Buoyant in 2021”.
8. Does your story fit with current trends?
While your company may be in a stable, mature industry, there are chances new trends and technologies are affecting it. For instance, the world is abuzz with fresh innovations that are disrupting established businesses: fintech, the IoT, big data are but a few examples. If you plan to write about a new service offering, it may make sense to expound on how it leverages the latest technologies and how your company is embracing them.
9. Quote a respected authority
Quoting a respected expert or renowned institution may give your message more weight, provided the connection is not tenuous. If your story is about your company’s launching a new B2B solution that is more environmentally friendly while being cost effective, quoting a well-known industry executive recently lauding the economic and reputational benefits for companies of going green may help support your story and ultimately drive interest in your product.
10. Draw on a personal story
Writing a story from the viewpoint of one or more individuals may elicit a positive emotional response from your readers. Has your company changed someone’s life? Has one of your employees won a special award for his/her exceptional achievements or contributions to society? Between those two headlines, which would most likely lead you to read further: “Company Introduces Revolutionary Hearing Aids” or “After Living 50 Years in Silence, Grandfather Hears Again”?
Hopefully this article will have provided you with a structured, systematic way to find the perfect angle for your upcoming press releases and announcements. Now that we have gone through these 10 tactics, would you do anything different the next time around? Conversely, if you already have a process that has been working well for you, we would love to hear more about it.