PART ONE: Website content writing made easy
The Five Ws (Who, What, Why, Where & When)
Let's get the boring but practical bit out of the way first. When writing a news article, it's always important to ensure you cover off the five Ws of the story in the first two sentences. This rule will enable you to quickly telegraph the most important information - giving the reader the topline facts.
Be SEO Friendly
Teaching granny to sucks eggs here I am sure - but a well-optimised headline can make the world of difference to how high a news story ranks in search engines. Ideally, your news article should feature at least a couple of keywords. This will help attract web users who are interested in your event to discover your website. If you're writing about a big story, stick a keyword right at the front of the headline to enjoy SEO in all its full glory.
Long Story Short
When writing online, it's essential to tell the reader quickly what the story is about and why they should keep reading — or else they won't. One way of doing this is to do a short synopsis of the story - which should be no more than a paragraph. If it's of interest, the reader can choose to read on to get the fuller picture in the article. This NIB (News In Brief) section - which you can put between the heading and the full article - will allow busy bodies to keep on top of the news without having to scan-read the whole piece to see if it's relevant to them.
Stick to one idea per sentence
In news writing online, it's important to avoid long sentences. Every point of the piece needs to flow logically into the next without the sentences becoming cumbersome. Love it or hate it, The Sun uses shorter sentences to great effect in print and online. Why do they do this? It makes the writing easier to understand and therefore better holds the attention of the reader.
Keep in style and be stylish (where possible!)
Even if the subject matter of your event is as boring and plain as a packet of Smith's Salt ‘n' Shake crisps (pre-opening of the blue sachet of course), try to inject your writing with a distinctive tone of voice. In features and thought pieces, conversational styles work particularly well on the web, so don't be afraid to write with a knowing humour and to play to your audience. Online readers tend to be more accepting of unconventional writing styles - but know your audience and always sense check your style against your brand's guidelines.
A What? A pile-on is what it's called when websites put the latest development in a story at the top — no matter how incremental the new news matter is. Then, they'll pile the next development on the top, and the next — burying the best bits of the story. No-one wants to read a news article that is the size of the Canterbury Tales.
Although your event and its website isn't the Guardian or The Times, readers will notice sloppy writing and typos and they probably won't forgive you for it. The outcome? Some won't come back for more. Top tip - even old hacks who were writing in the time long before phone hacking usually get someone else to check their work before publishing it. Another pair of eyes should pick up the errors you're blind to.
Follow this link for PART TWO: The art of headline writing