Extra Extra
Extra Extra

One of the best forms of content for building readership is the "News Flash." This is an article based on some major event that just happened - whether it's positive or negative. Think of some old movies where you saw the paper boys holding up the latest edition yelling, "Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Man bites dog!"

What is a News Flash?

News flashes come in all varieties - a new product or research break through, a life-changing event, stock market performance, new legislation, a legal ruling, quote from a significant person, a new book, video, radio or TV program.

A news flash can come at any time, so you have to be poised and ready. Keep watch on your industry of business in general through email alerts, RSS feeds and news aggregation sites. You also have to be willing to stop what you are doing and write immediately. News flashes are popular but they have the shelf life of an apple without a peel. It doesn't take long to spoil.

Finding News Flashes

Practically speaking, setting up Google Alerts is a good way to track breaking news forareas where you have an interest or an expertise. You can choose search terms and Google will email you immediately if any of those terms show up in the news or on the web. You can even use boolean search terms such as - "Social and Media or Networking or Networks or Communications." This way you can pull breaking events or activities into your mail server at all times.

Writing the News Flash

When writing a news flash, there are several things you need to remember:

  • Even though the news may be "hot," don't sacrifice accuracy for speed in publishing. Be sure you have all the facts.
  • Speaking of facts, check more than one sources before reporting on something.
  • The headline of a news flash is particularly critical. While a clever title might sound cool, you need to stay with terms and phrases that people will use when they search.
  • When describing the event, activity, etc. be sure to include background information and analysis.
  • In addition to the description, be sure to explain how this event or activity impacts your readers.
  • If possible, offer your readers some next steps - what they need to do next, where they can find more information, etc.
  • Be sure to include how you can help your clients and prospective clients. Explain what benefits you may bring to the table for them.
  • Add a call to action to the end of the piece, giving clients and potential clients a reason to contact you
    • You can offer a consultation on whether this information will affect them.
    • You can also offer other services that may provide support they may need with regard to the information you presented.

The news flash accomplishes two distinct objectives:

  1. The content itself is important to get out to your readers.
  2. The content indicates that you are a person who is in touch with the pulse of the business world.

Making News Really Flash

When I worked in radio, we had a special intro - the sound of a teletype machine and a echoing voice booming "Bulletin, bulletin!" Then I would come on the air with, "This just in…" A news flash is just another story unless it is positioned differently. If on a blog or news site, make sure you add a descriptor, such as "Breaking" to the headline or use some other graphic to call attention to the piece. Colored fonts – particularly red – in the headline help to set off content as special.

News flash content can and should be distributed through a variety of media. It can be placed on your blog, tweeted with a link, added to your Facebook page, posted on a PR site, etc. The immediacy of the story will not only attract new readers but keep them coming back, hoping that you will continue to be a source of breaking news.

Next: Part Four - Practical and easy content you can write at your leisure