I recently took the course The Lead Lab from News U and I found it very informative. I definitely feel more confident about writing an effective lead for a story.
Four myths about leads that I learned:
1. A lead must never begin with a quote.
2. Leads must always contain attribution.
3. A good lead is never more than three or four lines long.
4. A lead must sum up the story in the paragraph.
I also learned that there are two types of leads: direct and delayed.
The effective elements in writing a lead are: who, what, when where, why, how, and so what.
In the Lead Lab course, I also learned that I should always read any lead aloud to make sure it sounds okay. I should also revise, revise, revise. And I should remember the basics and abide by AP style.
Other important things I learned in the Lead Lab were to remember the basic w’s and h’s. I learned to zero in on two basic questions: what’s the news and what’s the story about. I also learned that I should try and put myself in the position of the reader. If they hadn’t done the research on the story that I had done, would they understand what I am talking about? Part of that is interviewing my best source: myself. I also learned not to spend all my time on the lead and go back to it if I’m still having trouble later.
I also learned that I need to find tension and that a good lead provokes a question.
The Lead Lab was definitely a useful tool in my public relations writing and I found the tips and tricks I learned during the course to be very helpful.