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Writing an Effective News Post

It’s great that you’re posting news. Don’t stop there.

These simple pointers can help you to communicate your message more quickly and clearly and draw more traffic to your website.

Use Descriptive Titles and Summaries

The terms you use in the title (which acts as a headline) and summary of your news post can help draw traffic to your website. Incorporate keywords that someone is likely to use in an Internet search. For example, rather than a general title such as Student Presents Research, use Chemistry Student Presents Crystallography Research.

Include Links to Your Website and Other Key Pages

Make a quicklink to your department/office website and any other helpful pages—for example, a hub page. Remember that some readers may be seeing the post elsewhere on the Web via RSS (Really Simple Syndication), meaning they may need a link back to your website for more information. Link to outside websites when helpful to your audience, but remember that you may be leading them away from your website.

Provide Context

You and your colleagues are familiar with your department or office, but don’t forget about your other audiences—for example, prospective students and their parents. Make sure those audiences can understand your post.

Include Some Background

Make sure to include background information about your department/office and any faculty or staff members and organizations highlighted. If you’re posting news about a faculty member’s achievement, include background about the faculty member, your department, and the achievement itself.

Here are examples of questions you should answer:

  • What is the significance of this achievement? This could be answered with information about a journal in which research was published, why an award was granted, what type of organization a person has become involved with, etc.
  • Who is this faculty member? You may want to include information about education, research interests, etc.
  • Can I take a class with him/her? A list of some of the classes or specialties taught would be appropriate.
  • Is this a department I would want to join? Go ahead and brag about what makes your department special. 

Note: It’s handy for you to have ready standard descriptions, often called boilerplate, of your department and faculty members. You can paste them into your news posts whenever appropriate.

Don’t Use Jargon

  • Define terms, programs, or organizations the average reader or external audiences may not know.
  • Avoid using acronyms and abbreviations to identify departments, offices, and programs. Examples: HPED, CHC, CDC, HDES. They’re likely not as recognizable as you may think.

Put News First

There’s a reason you’re posting news—make your point early and clearly. People tend to skim stories on the Web. When the news in the story is hard to find, readers may get frustrated and/or stop reading.

Answer Who, What, When, Where, Why

And do it as early as possible in your news post. Often, this is done in your first sentence or paragraph.

Remember the Inverted Pyramid

Remember the inverted pyramid from high school or college journalism classes? It works for the Web, too. News posts don’t have to be short, but keep the important details near the top, as many readers may not make it to the end.

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