Articles serve many purposes. They can inform, educate, and help persuade. Yet popular misconceptions about articles exist. Some of them include:
1. Articles are written with the intention that they are meant for the media only.
It is true that articles are prepared with the intention of being submitted to and published by the media. The media’s job is to get the word out; why not your article be included in that content?
But the media doesn’t have to publish your article for you to get your word out. You can produce and distribute your articles yourself, through your web site, your newsletters and magazines, your blog, your podcast, and so on.
Regardless of how you plan to publish and distribute your article, it must follow certain conventions. It must answer the basic questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how). It must get the facts right and spell people’s names correctly. It must provide contact information, so the media or the reader can easily get more information.
2. They are to be written only in a straight news format.
A straight news format article gets right to the point. For example:
The city council passed an ordinance to change the days on which the garbage is collected. Starting next week, the city will collect garbage on Tuesday and Friday mornings.
This tells the key point, but articles can use a feature-style lead to better share the information by making it more personal. For example:
Carl Citizen always disliked taking out his garbage on Sundays for Monday pickup. He’d rather be watching his football games and planning his weekly schedule. Now, thanks to a new ordinance passed by the city council, he’ll take out his garbage on Mondays for Tuesday pickup.
Using a feature-style lead such as this, you can reach readers who are wondering how the issue affects them. In this case, a reader might agree with Carl Citizen that Sundays are for football and planning the weekly schedule. Of course, depending on the reader’s situation, moving garbage day to Tuesday could be difficult. It depends on the reader’s situation. But at least you’ve personalized the situation.
Consider these misconceptions, and how to address them, the next time you plan and prepare an article.