Are you burying the lede?

Readers want you to get to the point. Put the information they most need to know at the top of your messages.

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When I was in journalism school we called the failure to mention the most important, interesting, or attention-grabbing elements of a story in the first paragraph of a story “burying the lede.”

In corporate communications, “burying the lede” refers to the failure to mention the most important or actionable items at the beginning of your message, whether it comes in an email, a press release, or a Facebook post.

To use a recent example, let’s say you are writing an email to all employees explaining your company’s flu vaccination policy. The policy states that all employees must receive a flu shot or file a declination form. Otherwise, they’d be subject to disciplinary action. You wouldn’t begin this email with facts and statistics about the flu. You would start the email by calling attention to the steps employees need to take to avoid disciplinary action. Something like this:

Because receiving a flu vaccine is the best way to protect our patients, families and ourselves from the flu, all employees must receive a flu vaccine or file a declination form with Human Resources by December 1. Several vaccination clinics will be open to all employees in October. Receive your free flu shot at the following locations . . .

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