What makes the difference between a good and indifferent story? Over the years MediaWise has honed a six-point plan that works a treat each time.
We’ve developed it with writers who work with us to prepare newsletters, booklets and annual reports.
Step one: Plan
What is the story going to be about, which readers are you trying to reach, what are the points that you have to make, can the story be used for other purposes? These are all critical questions to ask and have answers for.
Step two: Gather your facts
It does not matter if you have prepared the best story in the world, if it is not accurate nor balanced, it will let you and the organisation down. Research, gather your facts and then check them again.
Step three: Tell a story
Yes, even a press release tells a story even though it is constructed in a different way to a newsletter story or Facebook post. Engage your audience with quotes, unusual facts but always with a take-away message of what the story is about and what you want the reader to do.
Step four: Context
Make sure your story is placed in a larger context – the issue of the day or week, a Government policy announcement, an event. This will you’re your readers (including journalists) immediately make a connection.
Step five: Rhythm
Make sure your writing flows easily rather than be a series of paragraphs. We find it pays to read writing out loud on the first draft and edit as you go.
Step six: Structure
Just as you check your writing for rhythm and flow, so you should check for how you organise a story. What should be the opening paragraph and why? Are you writing a feature or an opinion piece? The way you order a story—can have a major impact on whether readers go past the first paragraph or not.
McAuley Community Services for Women’s 2014 annual report
MediaWise researched, wrote and edited McAuley Community Services for Women’s annual report. The theme was based on an advertisement with the catchline It takes a split second to hit a woman…and a lifetime to undo the damage. The advertisement was the front cover, immediately spelling out the tone and intent of the annual report.
We planned each page’s overview from the Chairman’s report through to each service run by the organisation. The take-away line from each section was designed to ensure that any reader would connect with the problem and learn how McAuley Community Services for Women – through donations and other funds – was addressing the twin issues of homelessness and family violence.
Icons and data were used in each section to highlight the scale of the organisation’s work. Photographs were kept to a minimum to focus attention on statistics. Pullout quotes were used as storytelling devices throughout the annual report.
Copy is focused on solutions as well as telling a story of a problem which is being solved with the assistance of donors, government, staff, volunteers and the Sisters of Mercy.
The annual report took three months from the start of the project to the final version. We worked closely with the graphic designer to ensure the design and words married well.