If you are aiming for voluntary reprint of your PR article in print media, a good headline and strong visuals are mandatory. But that alone is not enough. You also need to provide your article with a thoughtful introduction. Only then can you have legitimate hopes that it will be both printed and read.
From many years of experience, we know that even seasoned journalists often have difficulties when it comes to writing a successful introduction for a newspaper article. Be it because introductions are considered a chore and are accordingly treated stepmotherly. Or it could be because there is simply no awareness of the great importance of a coherent introduction. Do it better! Because if you, as the person responsible for communication, want to obtain voluntary publications of your PR article (earned media), a strong introduction is essential.
djd/Unsplash Adam Solomon
Why good introductions are so important in PR articles
How do readers consume print media?? You don’t have to go through scientific studies to answer this question. Simply reflect on your own reading behavior when browsing newspapers or magazines. You will notice that this can usually be divided into three phases:
- The scanning phase: first, your eye is drawn to the image and headline of a newspaper or magazine article. This happens in a matter of seconds (mostly even rather unconsciously). After that it is decided whether you will deal with the offered content in more detail or not.
- The taster phase: If your interest in an article is piqued during the scanning phase, next turn to its introductory text. This takes – depending on the length of the introduction – ca. 10 to 15 seconds. And only if after reading this "appetizer" your interest has increased even more, will you devote yourself to the entire newspaper article and it begins ..
- the actual reading phase
And just as you act as a typical reader, so do those editors in the publishing houses. These are the people who, as gatekeepers, are entrusted by profession to decide on a daily basis which content will be included in the printed edition and which will not.
In essence, there are three content elements that determine whether your PR article will even find its way to the print reader: The image, the headline and the introduction. In previous blog posts, we have already dealt in detail with the topics of visuals and headlines. So it is high time to deal with the question of a successful introductory text now.
The formal structure of an introduction can be divided into the following three components:
1. The exciting introduction to your topic
The point here is to capture the reader right from the first sentence, ideally to create a real pull ("Open with a bang").
There are various ways of getting started, four of which I would like to present here as examples:
- Directly addressing readers (e.g., "Do you know this?? You come home from work stressed, want to quickly cook something for yourself or your family, but the fridge is yawningly empty …").
- Surprising to bizarre facts and figures that immediately catch the reader’s attention (example: "It takes only 2.4 seconds to go from zero to 100, consumes less than 1 liter per 1000 km and does not require a driver’s license. Talking about… "
- A short empathetic story (example: "Natalie Krempe is shocked. The 42-year-old housewife and mother has just received the shocking diagnosis from her doctor that will shake up her entire life in one fell swoop: …"). Note: This variant is only advisable for longer articles, as experience shows that even a short introductory story needs at least three to four sentences to build up the desired atmosphere.
- A humorous introduction (example: "What do hedgehogs, sherbet powder and the US president have in common??…"). Note: You should only use this variant if the punchline is really new, good and unmistakable. Otherwise, the opposite of the intended effect can easily occur.
2. The problem statement
The point here is to roughly outline the topic, the problem, that the newspaper article is about. But not only the topic itself is important. It is much more important to make clear to the reader from the beginning, why this topic is of special importance to him or her, or why this topic is of special interest to him or her. Urgency is. Ultimately, this is also the part where the famous "kitchen call" should be placed.
3. Implied problem solving
After you have made the reader aware of your topic, you now point out that you have a (ideally new, surprising, or otherwise unknown) solution to offer for this problem. Don’t give too much away yet, though. After all, the reader should be able to see the entire Read newspaper articles.
All in all, within the introduction you may well entice the reader. Depending on the publishing medium, you can even come across as a bit tabloid-esque. The stylistic device of seduction is perfectly okay here. However, it is crucial that you actually deliver on the promise you make to the reader, at the latest by the end of the newspaper article. Otherwise, you’ll disappoint him and he usually won’t let you get away with that.
The short version: the introductory three-line sentence
If you want to write an introduction, but, as is usual with consumer texts, you have only limited text space available, the compact rule-of-three method has proven to be effective. As the name implies, this introductory variant actually consists of only three sentences:
- The introductory sentence: Every word must be right. Avoid banalities or empty phrases. Instead, pick out an exciting aspect of your topic. Feel free to use emotionally charged words. It is important: The first sentence must make the reader sit up and take notice. However, the content may still leave some questions unanswered.
- The explanatory sentence: It sets the surprising, if necessary. even provocative introductory sentence into the right content frame. At the latest now the reader knows, around which for a topic and/or a topic of the newspaper article. which problem it concerns.
- The transition sentence: This one brings into play what is actually new, the (surprising) solution to the problem, and thus creates the elegant link to the main body of the newspaper article.
Here is an example of such a three-sentence introduction: "Germany’s households contain a treasure trove of money of unimaginable proportions: according to estimates, even today – 20 years after the introduction of the euro – more than 12 billion deutschmarks are ‘slumbering’ here! What you can do if you too still find old cash in attics, chests or under the mattress, we reveal to you here."
You would like to publish your topic, your product or your company in a PR article, but you lack the editorial capacity to do so? No problem. We provide to your topic the suitable newspaper article – suitable introduction inclusive – and provide for the fact that this article is published millionfold in the media. Contact us! Our customer consultants will be happy to help you.