Different articles take different forms – and different pieces of content deliver their messages best in specific structures, depending on the user story that you’re looking to answer. But there’s one that’s always the same: the piece of news.
User story: As a sports fan I want to know the results of this game so that feel informed.
The structure is simple:
- Header: 8 words maximum, nothing clever, says what has happened.
- Sub header: 14 words maximum, additional hook or interesting fact.
- Paragraph 1: 14 word introduction, explaining what has happened, plus additional clause answering left-over who, where and when.
- Paragraph 2: quotation from important participant.
- Paragraphs 3+4: supporting information. (This can go on for longer, but how many people really read past four paragraphs?)
- Optional: end of article bullet points with some quick facts.
- Teaser: driving fans to the next game or content opportunity.
Here’s the framework applied to a fictional example inspired by a game result in the NBA.
Header: 8 words maximum, nothing clever, says what has happened.
Rockets beat Hawks 118-99 for 50th win
Sub header: 14 words maximum, additional hook or interesting fact.
Houston leads the Western Conference with a quarter of the regular season left to play.
Paragraph 1: 14 word introduction, explaining what has happened, plus additional clause answering left-over who, where and when.
The Houston Rockets rolled to their 50th victory by beating the Atlanta Hawks 118-99 | 14 words | on Sunday night, as James Harden recorded his fifth triple-double of the season with 18 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in Atlanta’s Philips Arena.
Paragraph 2: quotation from important participant.
“Winning is what it’s all about. I’m not going into the depths but I thought it was all about winning,” said Harden when asked if he considered himself the leader in the MVP race.
Paragraphs 3+4: supporting information.
Houston ran up a 21-point lead after two quarters, 74-53, and then held off a late Atlanta surge in the fourth, when the almost Hawks dragged the game back into contention at 101-92, to secure the win.
Gerald Green had 23 points and Chris Paul added 20 as Eric Gordon sat out a fifth consecutive game with a strained calf muscle.
Optional: end of article bullet points with some quick facts.
– Taurean Prince led the Hawks with 28 points from the bench.
– The Hawks have lost four in a row and eight of their last 10.
– Houston sits atop the Western Conference, three wins up on the Golden State Warriors.
Teaser: driving fans to the next game or content opportunity.
Next: The Rockets face the Mavericks in Dallas on Tuesday night while the Hawks play the Golden State Warriors in Atlanta on Thursday.
The key to delivering well-read news content is timeliness, clarity and conciseness. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Answer the key questions – and educate the audience.