Use your nut graph to give us a reason to stick around
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Storytelling Tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version
By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Consultant
Give us a reason to stick around to hear the rest of your story. That’s the job of your nut graph — your nutshell paragraph, where you summarize the main point of your story and give us a reason to care.
As one observer put it: “It allows readers to understand why the heck they were invited to the party and why they should seriously consider attending.”
Nut graph is a journalism term. So, unless you’ve spent time in a newsroom, you probably haven’t heard it before. Sadly, many people who work in newsrooms haven’t heard it, either. And their writing often suffers as a result.
Once upon a time, most newspaper stories began by telling you something happened today or yesterday. Just the facts. No need for a nut graph. The lead doubled in that role — grabbed your attention and told you what the story was about. The rest of the story just filled in the details. And why should you care? Well, it was “news.” That was reason enough.
But stories — news stories and your story — don’t always begin with those just-the-facts leads followed by filling in the details.
You have to grab our attention so we’ll pause long enough to consider sticking around to hear what you have to say. That’s your lead’s job.
Then you need to hook us with a paragraph that gives us your story in a nutshell and gives us a reason to read or listen to the rest of what you have to say. That’s your nutshell paragraph, your nut graph.
As blogger Michele Rafter puts it: “A story without a gut graph is like a walk in the woods without a path: you know you’re going someplace, you’re just not sure where. The nut graph supplies that direction. It tells readers, ‘This is what this story is about, this is why you should care, this is why you should keep reading.'”
That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?
Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also 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.
Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.