Archive for the Leads That Succeed (Or Don’t) Category

Hey. I’m Talking To You.

Posted in Leads That Succeed (Or Don't) on January 30, 2009 by jessicapruitt


The Bangkok Post wants YOU…to know that Pattaya City has a whole new image. “Connecting up Pattaya City” starts off with a direct address lead, trying, if i dare say, to connect with its reader. “If you think that Pattaya is just about night life, you may have to re-think,” warns the article. “Pattaya City today is working hard in a bid to attract visitors with a new image, as a place for families, an international convention centre and a place for world-class events.”

In theory, I like the use of a lead like this for such an article. Because the piece is about people and perceptions, the attempt to form a human connection with its reader is appropriate. In practice, however, the opening sentence is a little bulky. I could chalk my objections up to the fact that I don’t know precisely what (or where) Pattaya City is, but I would be lying to myself. The writer simply does a poor job of really grabbing the reader’s attention. The construction is less than snappy and any delightfully surprising content is not-so-delightfully absent. Since the article really is about your perception of Pattaya City (whatever that might be), I would consider sticking with a direct address lead, but this time with pizzazz. A scene-setter or startling statement, however, would probably work even better.


Caution: Words At Play

Posted in Leads That Succeed (Or Don't) on January 30, 2009 by jessicapruitt


CNN barks up the right tree with this witty word play lead: “Every dog has his day, but Sir Lancelot — or at least his carbon copy — has a second one.” The article – “Florida couple clones beloved dog for 155,000” -teases us rather politely with this play on a common expression before going on to elaborate upon Sir Lancelot’s reincarnation, as it were. I hate to be overly enthusiastic, but I have to admit that I love nothing more than a punningly cheesy opener–not to mention that it brings an added element of a shocking statement lead.

The article could have started off with a blind or scene-setting lead, which would have worked for the subject matter as well, but the word play lead appeals more to the type of audience who loves to read feel-good, human interest stories such as this one. Furthermore, because the subject matter is mildly controversial, the light-hearted and playful lead works well to diffuse any hard feelings and affirm that, though the article addresses the contention, it is not the primary focus. Were it me, I might have punned on the dog’s waggish name instead, but one thing is for sure: there will be puns.

Round ‘Em Up

Posted in Leads That Succeed (Or Don't) on January 29, 2009 by jessicapruitt


Jack Healy’s article “Reports Underscore Weakness of Economy” starts off with a snappy roundup lead that is, well, stronger than the current state of our economy to say the least. “Thursday brought a hat-trick of grim economic news,” he writes. “New-home sales fell to their slowest pace on record, businesses cut their orders and jobless claims continued to rise.”

Such a lead appropriately tackles the three major components of the country’s economic failure and introduces the trio of recently released reports with ease. Skillfully, the lead manages to provide a thorough summary and introduction without all the blah-se of a more traditional hard news lead. It is to the point and sharp and, despite the grimness of the subject matter (not to mention my general distaste for economics), I found myself reading further. And that’s quite an accomplishment. If I were capable of writing an article about the economy (the law of supply and what now?), I wouldn’t change a thing. Nice work, Healy.

The Blind Leading the Blind

Posted in Leads That Succeed (Or Don't) on January 29, 2009 by jessicapruitt


Damon Darlin’s bacon-licious article, “Take Bacon. Add Sausage. Blog.” starts out rather tongue-in-cheek with a blind lead that goes a little something like this: “FOR a nation seeking unity, a recipe has swept the Internet that seems to unite conservatives and liberals, gun owners and foodies, carnivores and … well, not vegetarians and health fanatics.” It is not until the third paragraph that Darlin finally reveals his topic of choice: the notorious Bacon Explosion that has generated so much buzz in the foodie blogosphere as of late.

Had the article not been prefaced by a larger-than-life, full-color photograph of said bacon phenomenon, the story’s lead would have been even more mysterious and intriguing, but as is, it worked pretty well for my tastes (no pun intended). Given the over-the-top nature of the recipe, Darlin’s quirky, ironical lead works well with the subject matter: more tasteful than another bad bacon pun and certainly more appropriate than the solemnity of a basic news lead.

Admittedly, the end of the sentence turned out a little bulky, but this quasi-vegetarian reader will leave bacon leads to the bacon aficianados and call it a job well done.