If there was a car crash outside your home today, how would you inform the rest of the household?
Would you say: “Outside there is a street, and on that street some cars drive up and down. This happens without incident every single day, but just there two crashed into each other.”
Or perhaps: “Here are some statistics on car crashes. Each day in the UK there are almost 100,000 road accidents, varying in seriousness and type. One such incident just occurred.”
No, you’d say: “THERE’S JUST BEEN A CAR CRASH OUTSIDE.”
And that’s a blunt and unfurnished example of what the first line of a news story, press release or other communication should be.
Too often I see examples of press releases (and sometimes news stories) which take several lines to get to the WHAT.
That’s despite the WHAT usually being the most interesting part - the element around which the whole story is based.
If you don’t get to the WHAT in the first line, your audience and readers will drop off instantly, and many opportunities will be missed.
Without the WHAT, the other four Ws of who, where, why and when become largely irrelevant.
So when you’re writing an introduction to anything, don’t attempt to be too clever.
Instead, report the car crash outside in the bluntest possible terms, then refine and build your why, who, when and where around it.
Otherwise your introduction itself risks being a car crash.