4 steps to firing up your writing with an anecdotal lead

Communicators can borrow a page from journalists to get the message out—and make it more memorable and personally engaging.

Janet Thaeler had a client with a story to tell, and time was of the essence.

The media was crackling with stories about a Tennessee mom who had shipped her adopted 7-year-old son back to Russia because of his purported psychological problems and violent behavior.

Thaeler’s client had written a book about her own struggles with a daughter adopted from Belarus. So Thaeler fired off a press release with an anecdotal lead, landing her client on the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune.

“If you can actually give the human element, I think that’s what gets the call,” says Thaeler, “because now you actually have someone they can interview on the news or talk to or talk about.”

The anecdotal lead is often overlooked by communicators pressed to announce the latest numbers or a new widget at the top of a report or press release. But when the story has a personal side, try a technique favored by journalists. Consider this example from The Wall Street Journal:

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