I’ve written thousands upon thousands of news updates over the years. (Seriously!)
Many websites need to turn around quick news summary and analysis shortly after it goes public, and there are tons of people (like me) ready to react to those news stories.
I tend to cover technology and business news, and have developed a rough process that could be helpful to those new to this arena where speed is very important.
I think it’s best to know what information you need for the story while researching. Research can be really time consuming when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
So, to maximize your time, Direct your research so that you can generate the following:
- Write a one-sentence summary of the news. This will be familiar to many of us as a standard news lead: the facts in the most clear and concise way possible, but also sometimes incorporating a “hook” that could pique the audience’s interest. This is the core of the story.
- (If needed) a short description of the company involved – What does it do? What is its market share? How many users or customers does it have? Is there anything that makes it unique?
- Find out what other circumstances are relevant to mention in the company’s (or industry’s) recent history.
- Find out who their most direct competitors are, and who they are different.
- Find any notable quotes from the company or reactions from competitors or analysts.
- Answer a possible answer to the question: How does this latest development work into the story of the company and how is it now positioned within the industry?
This should provide a framework for writing about nearly any company. As you are able to accumulate the information, you’ll be able to start shaping and ordering the sentences in the story. It’s often advisable to start with the short summary of the news, and then fill the reader in with background information. If possible, it’s often nice to end with an observation about the significance of the news event.
Keep in mind the audience that is likely reading your updates. For instance, if you’re writing to investors, you might want to focus more on stock prices and quarterly results to frame the news. If you’re writing for a technology site, you might want to focus more on the software and hardware involved – assuming this might be something your particular readers would be interested in.
Obviously, there are cases for more thoroughly reported journalism with interviews that add depth to the story, also, having time to reflect can provide some needed perspective on the news. Yet, these quick news items are still important, and this formula might be useful for maximizing your research and writing time. It might help ensure your post is smarter and more insightful than it might otherwise be.