What is a Feature Story?
In journalism terms, a feature story is an “evergreen” story, meaning that its significance won’t fade over time. While the exploits of the latest celebutant have a limited shelf life, evergreen feature stories can run at any time.
For the public relations professional, feature stories (also known as feature articles) are a great way to get your client or employer exposure in the media even when there’s no breaking news to report. Or better yet, a PR professional can get extra mileage out of a newsworthy event by promoting it twice – as a news story and as a feature story.
The fact that a company invented a battery with an unprecedentedly long shelf-life makes for breaking news. A story about the environmental impact of batteries and how this new battery will reduce harmful environmental effects can be turned into a feature story.
Feature stories are generally longer than news stories, and educate people while helping them understand how to use, choose or buy a product. Or, if your story involves a person, a feature story will give background on that person and explain his or her significance.
Just as with any story that appears in a newspaper, magazine, or on the news, a feature story should have an angle. The feature story’s angle will highlight a facet of an organization, individual, product, service or cause that may have been previously unknown or not well understood.
When it comes to writing your feature story, you can do it yourself or you can hire a freelance writer to write it for you. If you choose to write a feature article yourself, keep in mind that even when a feature story is related to breaking news, its appeal comes from the fact that it is written as a narrative, a story, rather than in the “inverted pyramid” news story style.
Many feature stories start with a telling anecdote rather than all the facts. Also, unlike a news story, feature stories do not have to be objective. It is fine to express an opinion in a feature story, as long as the story does not try to deceive or misinform.
When you write a feature story it is possible to promote a product, company or service. You do this by leading with the story then deftly inserting the product, company or service into the article. Because feature stories are often used in their entirety, you want these important mentions to seem natural. An article that mentions a product or service just once will be seen as fair and appropriate – making it more likely to be considered for inclusion.
Feature stories can be submitted to the same publications where you send your press releases. However, unlike with press releases, some publications might not run your feature story if they know it is being considered by other news outlets. Most larger and higher-quality publications require exclusive material, and you will damage your relationship with editors if they find that your content has been published with a competitor as well. So you will probably want to send your featured stories to one publication at a time, (unless you’re submitting it to small publications, see below,) telling them this is an exclusive, and only submit it to the next publication when it has been rejected for publication.
When you are writing and submitting featured stories, it is helpful to think of yourself as a freelance author rather than a public relations person. That shift in thinking will help you both navigate the process of getting it published, and better deal with the process emotionally.
As with any publication, make sure you are aware of their guidelines and the types of stories they print before submitting your feature story. A technical publication devoted to industry updates might be receptive to your news release, but not your feature story. A hometown newspaper, however, may be just the opposite. Feature stories do extremely well with smaller publications, especially local daily and weekly newspapers, most of which are fine publishing a feature that is being considered by other news outlets.
Reprinting Featured Stories on Your Website
After your feature story has been published, do not forget to reprint it on your website. A mainstream media story about your organization, individual, client or cause adds instant credibility.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (https://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of 7 Cheap PR Tactics for Success in Any Economy here: https://www.ereleases.com/free-offer/cheap-pr-tactics/