The Inverted Pyramid
  • Editors expect your PR writing to follow the journalistic convention which is represented in the classic form of a pyramid turned upside down.
  • The most important facts come first -- represented by a top band of information. That's your lead. (The lead can sometimes require two paragraphs to fully communicate.) If this were the only part of the story to survive, you would still be able to get your message to the public.
  • The second most important facts follow -- and then the third most important -- and so on. If the reader (or editor) stops reading at any point, they will still have read what you consider to be the more important aspects of the story.
  • Keep in mind that it is your responsibility to figure out the order of importance at this point in your message planner. And then to stick to your choices as you plan the paragraphs of your press release.
The Hourglass
  • Really long feature stories start off with the same inverted pyramid
  • Just when you think you've read enough, you will encounter a transitional sentence, represented here as a pivot between two blocks of text.
  • Then you'll get into analysis -- "on the other hand" -- and more detailed research and explanation, with some very interesting, in-depth coverage of your topic.
  • For longer PR writing assignments, this may be a good way to get the reader engaged and ready to follow you into the weeds.
The Exclamation Point
  • This is my favored approach -- it's the same as the inverted pyramid, except that you recap -- restate your message -- in the final paragraph.
  • You can also save some surprise element of the story for revelation at the end -- as a kind of punchline. Be careful about what you bury here, though, because many readers will never get that far into your story.
  • One way to split the difference is to include everything where it belongs, in the inverted pyramid, but then to use the final paragraph of your release as a pithy, lively, punchy quote that restates your message.