Feature Writing and PR

21 02 2009

This week in Dr. V’s PR class we discussed feature stories and their importance in PR. We also had a journalist come to talk to the class about writing features. We decided that feature writing not only is an important skill for journalists, but also for PR people. PR people need to know how to write features so they can pitch to journalists more effectively. Also, features appear in internal media within a company or organization. Feature writing can be applied to news letters and also blogging.

In my intro to journalism class in Spring 2008 we used Tim Harrower’s book, Inside Reporting ,to help us learn the ropes of journalism. I highly recommend this book. Below I have summarized the different styles of features that are described in his book.

Styles of Feature Stories

  1. Personality Profile: Is about a person. This story combines facts, quotes and descriptions to talk about a subject.
  2. Human-interest story: This is a story about real people. A situation that is tragic, funny, odd or inspirational.
  3. Color story: You write this when you are asked to attend an event. Interview people and describe what you experience.
  4. Backgrounder: This is an analysis of an event or issue in the news. You tell the 5Ws of the story.
  5. Trend story: These are stories about things, places, people that are affecting today’s culture.
  6. Reaction piece: This provides a sampling of opinions about breaking news or a controversial topic.
  7. Flashback: These are commemorative stories that combine photos, facts and interviews to describe something that happened in the past and why it is important.
  8. How-to: This teaches reader how to do something. Often contains bulleted lists and diagrams.
  9. Consumer guide: This is a story that rates a place or product. Tells readers the good, the bad and the ugly.
  10. Personal narrative: A story told in first person about something that you experienced.