A news release emphasizes the timely disclosure of basic information about situations and events, but feature stories in contrast can provide additional background information, generate human interest, and create understanding in a more imaginative way. In essence, feature writing requires right-brain skills, such as intuition, image-making, and creativity. Some examples of feature stories:
1. A case study is frequently used in product publicity. These stories often tell how individual customers have benefited from a company’s product or service or how another organization has used the product or service to improve efficiency or profits. In brief, case studies are a form of third-party endorsement or testimonial that helps illustrate the acceptance or popularity of a particular service or product in the marketplace.
2. An application story is quite similar to a case study. But the major difference is that the application story focuses primarily on how consumers can use a product or a service in new and innovative ways. The advantage to the organization is that it can show multiple, practical applications of a product or service over a period of time, which generates increased consumer awareness and usage.
3. A research study is about some aspect of contemporary lifestyles or a common situation in the workplace. For example, one study sponsored by Korbel Champagne Cellars, was about how Americans propose marriage. It found, among other things, that 25 percent of men still propose marriage on a bended knee.
4. Backgrounders are ones that focus on a problem and how it was solved by an organization or a product. Often there is some historical material and an opportunity for injecting human interest into the story. One example is a story on the reclamation of strip-minded land and how a coal company restored an area to productive use for farming.
5. Personality profiles of “movers and shakers” also are popular in the business press. In most cases, these profiles are written by journalists with, quite often, a strong assist from public relations personnel who, sell the idea of a profile, make the executive available, provide background information, and even arrange photo shoots. In essence, people like to read about people, particularly if they are celebrities.
6. Historical pieces cover anniversaries, major changes, centennials, and many other events that lend themselves to historical features. Significant milestones may present an opportunity to report on the history of the organization, its facilities, or some of its people. Stressing the history of an organization lends it an air of stability and permanence. The public can logically deduce that if an organization has lasted “that long” it must have merit.