Take your readers on a journey
You probably won’t be too interested to learn that I became a newspaper journalist in the mid 1980s, giving up a lucrative career as a night club DJ in the process. There was a cross-over period of about three years though – I was a mild mannered reporter during the day and a super beat-mixing house DJ by night.
I loved the music of course, still do, but I had something to say and letters to the editor weren’t cutting it. Having watched an episode of Lou Grant I figured I’d become a newspaper journalist (yeah I know).
And so started a journey that saw me land a job at my local newspaper where I reported on everything from crime, local politics, the annual carnival parade, and social issues that mattered to members of my community. I rose to deputy editor, left for a few years in corporate communications and then I moved from the UK to join the New Zealand Herald in 2000.
While the basics of writing news and features remains the same; the need for SEO copy can’t be understated. And with time-poor people, readers want meaningful features that tell a story, take them on a journey, inform, entertain and enlighten them (as quickly as possible).
You know that a good story starts with a clear brief, reliable data and ideally a good interview subject. Someone who can speak fluently on the subject matter, avoid cliches, PR speak and answer questions in a way that add depth and interest to the feature. A writer wants quotes that add colour to the story, not confuse it (in which case they wont be used).
The art of a good writer is finding the right people to speak with, to draw information from interviewees, layer the story with facts from reliable sources, and then deliver the feature in a way that makes digesting it effortless.
Sometimes the story isn’t the story at all; it’s the events that led to the story. Often, the ‘how did we get here’ story is more interesting than the ‘what we are about to do’ story.
For news releases the target audience is key. Releases need to be crafted carefully while still retaining their fluidity. Engagement needs to remain high while conveying a clear message and call to action. So many press releases I read have the key information in the final paragraph.
Still, writing is a passion. I enjoy it as much as I do music.
My rates are $110 per hour plus expenses.
Sorry, I am currently not taking on any additional writing work. But I can recommend some brilliant freelancers if you contact me.