Telling Your Story: Grab Me. And Hold Me Until the Very End.
By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
I’m talking about telling your story, of course. More specifically, I’m talking about two important items that can dramatically increase the chances of your story being heard, understood and remembered: Your lead and your nut paragraph. What’s a nut paragraph? Stick around and I’ll tell you.
Your lead has only one job: Grab our attention long enough to interest us in reading or listening to your story. If your lead does that, pat it on the back for a job well done and give it the rest of the day off.
Your story — and the message it includes — is competing with a lot of others for attention. Meanwhile, the rest of us are fending off most of the messages bombarding us because we’re overwhelmed.
Your lead’s job is to cut through all that clutter to convince us your story’s worth a closer look.
How do you do that? Say something unexpected. Ask a question intriguing enough that we’ll want to stick around to learn the answer. Offer an anecdote. Say something that will grab our attention and make us want to know more.
Since your lead has to entice the rest of us into your story, sometimes your message has to wait for its turn to join the fun. That’s where your story crystallizes. In journalism school they call it your nut paragraph.
Once you’ve grabbed us with your lead, your nut paragraph’s job is to give us a reason to stick around long enough to hear what you have to say.
In a movie, it’s the scene where it becomes clear exactly what the story is about. And it’s the point in a novel where the plot thickens. Or, in the words of the editors of thenutgraph.com: “It allows readers to understand why the heck they were invited to the party and why they should seriously consider attending.”
Your lead opens your story. Your nut paragraph often is the second or third paragraph of your story, although your lead and nut paragraph can be one and the same. The second paragraph of this article is my nut paragraph. It’s where I told you why what I had to say was, I hope, worth your time.
There’s no rule about the location of your nut paragraph. But wait too long to add it and the rest of us may not get to it. Leave it out entirely and we may wonder what your story’s about or why we should care.
That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?
Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He helps clients develop content for telling their stories. He helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.