Don’t bury the lede: Put crucial information first


“Burying the lede” is the failure to mention the most important,
interesting or attention-grabbing elements of a story in the first few
paragraphs.

In corporate communications, “burying the lede” means you’ve failed to
highlight the most important or actionable items at the beginning of your
message.

Let’s say you are writing an email to all employees about a change to your
organization’s health care plan. You wouldn’t begin the email with facts
and statistics about the rising costs of health care or about the current
turmoil in the health care industry. Instead, you would start the email by
stating how your organization’s changes will affect employees:


We have chosen a new health care plan through ABC Health effective June
1. There will not be a premium increase associated
with this change, but co-pay and deductible amounts have increased.
There has also been a change to our provider list. Here are the
details.

The following paragraphs should spell out the details, explain the reasons
for the change and include facts about the rising costs of health care.

Corporate communicators know not to “bury the lede,” but that’s not always
the case with your clients and executives, many of whom insist on putting
background or irrelevant information front and center.

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When working with these insistent clients, tell them that readers often
have very little time or attention to digest their message. Too much
information can distract and overtax readers, causing them to ignore the
message completely. Ask clients or leaders if their message would be
understood by someone who is reading it on their phone while standing in
line at the grocery store.

Point out that background information and statistics can still be included
in the message, such as being linked or listed under the heading
“Background” or “Quick Facts.” You can also offer to summarize important
information in a few bullets at the beginning of the message, and other
information can follow later on.

Offering options, such as creating an infographic or placing the
complicated information in a table, can be another way to persuade
persistent clients and leaders. In the health plan example, a table can be
an effective way to compare a new plan with the old.

PR Daily
readers, how do you keep the lede in the forefront of your communications?


Laura Hale Brockway is medical writer and editor and a regular
contributor to PR Daily. She writes about writing at


impertinentremarks.com
.

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