The National thrives on submissions from members and we want more. It comes easier to some than others, so I’m happy to share some tips to help you feel confident in your article writing skills and provide the Newsletter committee great content!
Constructing a Story
Start with a compelling title. There are different ways to approach the rest. One would be the journalism way of answering these questions: who, what, when, where, why and how? If you can jot down the answers to these questions as a start, you can stitch them together to tell a story. This approach would work very well for reporting type articles, like about an event for example.
Another approach is the five paragraph essay format that I remember learning in high school.
- Introduction: paragraph 1 is where you set the scene for what you are going to talk about, or state your thesis.
- Main Points: paragraphs 2-4 can cover three different main points that support your introduction.
- Conclusion: in paragraph 5 you wrap it all up with a final summary of your points or ‘therefore…’ or call-to-action.
Get to the Point Up Front
Even as your headline! This always helps intrigue and compel readers to continue. However, many of our Committee Chairs write articles because they need something from the membership. They provide a lot of useful background information, but don’t make the ask until near the end. We’re living in an age where we’re served up so much information that we choose few to read in full. Therefore, say what you need right away, then give the background. The details may not get read, but at least the most important part of the message was seen.
The saviour of lengthy articles! As a reader you know you may be scared off by a wall of text. Something that really breaks it up and allows people to scan the article quickly for relevant info is the addition of sub-heads. What I do is write the article first to get out all of my thoughts, then go back and add the subheads. For example, if you take the five paragraph essay approach, you could go back and add a subhead before paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 that simply states the main point you’re talking about. Sub-heads can really make a long article digestible.
Send Photos, Separately
Photos are a WONDERFUL addition to any article. Some people place them in the Word document with the their text in order to include captions or show where they would best be placed, which is really helpful. However, it doesn’t work well to extract the photos from Word – they aren’t good quality and it’s time-consuming for the newsletter committee. So, please always send photos as files separate from your article.
Don’t forget, you can send videos and sound-bytes too.
Linking to More Information
Look for opportunities to include links to more information. If there are more details, photos, or a place to take action on another website, include the link in your article.
Remember, we can make any text or image the link, so instead of the cumbersome ‘Learn more about membership at http://www.thenyc.com/join-us/membership/’ you could just have ‘Learn more about membership at The NYC.’ with instructions as a side note on what words to link where. However, our newsletter committee can figure that out too and simplify what you send if the first way is easier for you.
Credit Where Credit is Due
Don’t forget to include your own byline. If you don’t, the newsletter committee will just add your name ‘by John Doe’. However, if you would like it to include more, like your title and contact information, just let us know.
If you get photos or information from someone else, be sure to give them proper credit too. You could include a note at the end, or make it a part of your article with instructions like the link to the original source.
We Have a Copy Editor
So don’t be shy about sending something in that’s not perfect, we have someone to help fix it. On the other hand, while we don’t want to change the flavour of your story, we have standards on the quality of the writing or you may include something you have no idea could be a problem – it reflects on the club. I would assume your article will be edited at least a little, and if you’d like to see it before it goes out, just say so when you send it in.
Keep Them Coming!
We really do love your submissions. Write about your sailing trips, the hard work you do around the club, events attended, your racing season, marine environmental issues, etc. Anything related sailing, the lake, the club is fair game. You could even run an idea past the Newsletter Chair first to see what they think if you like. Send submissions and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org