Posted by contentgrrl on January 24, 2008
In the art of news writing, we still use tried-and-true formulas to get started with researching, interviewing, and organizing basic news according to the 5 Ws and the H. We discussed policy examples previously, and event examples last time.
Now, let’s look at how these questions can play out for news stories about aftermath. The questions below apply to analyzing the causes and consequences of conflicts, disasters, losses, and mistakes.
These stories may include war’s battles, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, fires, stormy weather, epidemics, extinctions, sports and other competitions, transportation wrecks, market crashes, crime, utility outages, closings, civil suits, industrial accidents, even product and software defects, illnesses, injuries, and other broken promises and dreams.
- Who is the injured or affected party?
- Who witnessed the event or reported the problem?
- Who is blamed or taking responsibility for the problem?
- What damages have taken place?
- What are the symptoms that affected parties suffer?
- What is the major cause of the problem or failure?
- What additional mitigating factors contributed to the problem?
- When did the event, problem, and cause commence?
- When is a solution expected to be complete?
- Where did the event, problem, and cause occur?
- Why is this event or problem significant?
- How do we know what caused the problem?
- How is the problem being treated or resolved?
- How are we proactively preventing this problem in the future?
Next, we’ll look at how these questions can play out for a more positive type of news story: discoveries.
Posted in citizen, community, culture, publishing, writeroll | Tagged: 5Ws and H, accidents, aftermath, analysis, case study, crime, disaster, feature, formulas, interview, news, question, sports, writeroll | 1 Comment »
Posted by contentgrrl on December 20, 2007
As part of my rather broad work in writing, I’m often asked for policy statements or alerts. In an effort to communicate completely about a policy, I like to concentrate on the ABCDs of performance objectives (interlaced with the 5Ws and the H from newswriting interviews):
- A is for Audience: Who is required to perform a task or comply with a new rule?
- B is for Behavior: What skill, task, or operation is required?
- C is for Conditions: How are tools involved in performing the task or complying with the rule? Are there prerequisite procedures that must already be completed in advance? Are there certain deliverables, inputs, or variables that need to be given?
- D is for Degree: Why, Where, and When is it critical? What are the measurable constraints (in time, place, budget) that determine whether the behavior is successful? Is there a minimum and/or recommended criteria? What resulting benefits and consequences may be persuasive motivating factors?
I come from an instructional design background. There, the standard ABCDs of instructional and performance objectives are used to design lessons and identify the criteria for testing whether a student actually learned the new skill. It’s based on the work of Mager, Gagné & Briggs.
The ABCD formula works in everything — from basic math drills to complex software troubleshooting labwork to sales techniques to regulatory compliance training. But it may not be obvious that the performance objective typically comes from an organizational need. The objectives are measured so that the people in one stage (such as a Kindergarten class or a network engineering division or a marketing team or a safety inspector) do their jobs well enough for the rest of the organization to take it from there and fulfill expectations.
But I’d like to take it one step further:
- E is for Exceptions: Are there exceptions to the rule? How do you know if a rule or issue does not apply to you, or that you are outside its scope? Are there special situations that may apply, and if so, how do you proceed?
Understanding exceptions takes a level of expertise that may not always be available when writing policy or alerts. But if you can nail that down, it’s one way to set your communications apart and be truly helpful to your readers.
Posted in citizen, heroes, learning, performance, persuasion, reading, tools, writeroll | Tagged: 5Ws and H, ABCD, alert, analysis, audience, behavior, communicate, condition, degree, exceptions, expertise, interview, learning, objective, organizational need, performance, policy, writeroll | 1 Comment »
Posted by contentgrrl on November 10, 2007
If you want to make news, do something newsworthy.
I’ll bet you know to stay away from scandal no matter how much press it gets! ;^) But here are some suggestions for positive spins:
- Conduct a survey of your clients, and report results of their opinions on a timely topic that’s getting some press lately or chronically in your industry. Oh, do reporters love statistics! And quotable quotes from real people! And expert conclusions! NOTE: Get written permission to use their quotes in your report!
- Submit your work for an industry competition (and, well, you have to win or at least have honorable mention).
- Write a white paper on the best way to do something, ten tips, ten things to avoid, and so on, where you have extensive expertise.
- Partner with a client or another company on a big project, and write a report showing massive ROI (return on investment).
- Merge or acquire.
- Volunteer to your senator or representative to contribute some research or analysis on a topic that lends itself to current or upcoming legislation.
- Scan the U.S. code of federal regulations for your industry, and volunteer to contribute research or analysis on regulatory changes going on in the industry.
- Keep an eye out for court cases in your industry, and talk up lawyers on key cases, and confer about serving as an expert witness.
- Do something phenomenal for a charity.
- If you are a good speaker, consider podcasting on various 5-10 minute topics.
Focus especially on the local news, trade magazines and journals that you like to read, and the organizations where you are a member. But also consider PR Web.
Posted in marketing, persuasion, publishing, reading, writeroll | Tagged: analysis, expert, marketing, news, podcast, PR, press release, public relations, writeroll | Leave a Comment »