What’s The Difference Between A News Story And A Feature? [2022]

If you want to know the difference between a news story and a feature this is the guide for you.

Understanding the difference between these two pieces of editorial content is vital if you want to excel at public relations and media relations

It will help you know how to write a press release and how to write a media pitch – or even which press release distribution service to use.

It will inform you of the lead times – the time between creating the story and publication – that you need to stick to.

And it will set your expectations for how you will be represented in the final piece of coverage.

Crucially it will help you build a PR plan for your business – a winning public relations campaign.

Knowing the difference between news story examples and feature story examples is important when completing a press release template.

Let’s get into it.

The Difference Between A News Story And A Feature

A News Story…

Broadly speaking a news story is about something that is timely, it is happening today, tomorrow or next week.

An event, change or breakthrough occurs and due to its importance (or triviality in some cases), it is deemed to be newsworthy. These public relations examples show you what makes the grade.

Think of a product launch, a court case, an election, a crime occurring, a riot breaking out, a politician saying something daft, a company winning an award.

And if you want to know how to write a press release for an event, knowing what makes news is critical.

The list for what makes a news story is endless but here are a few recent examples:

Woman, 100, marries partner of 30 years

Floating pipe to clean up plastic in the ocean

GitHub launches Actions, its workflow automation tool

Company launches world’s most perfect chopping board (yes, really!)

Note these stores are from very varied media – from TechCrunch to CNN – but what unites them is their perceived news value for the relevant media. You can learn this.

Your own stories may not be as dramatic as these but think about your B2B media – there will be news in your company that they will want to hear about.

When identifying news stories about your business you need to have something that hits one of the following criteria:

  • Something genuinely new about your business
  • A real innovation you have developed
  • Something utterly remarkable about you or your business
  • How you are disrupting your market
  • A ‘first’ in some way

And remember what’s considered newsworthy for The Times will be different to Mashable, Sewing Monthly or whatever your target – even if it’s just ‘how to get a story on the local news‘. 

Writing A News Story

As the term suggests, this consists in the main of conveying the news in as direct a manner as possible, without leaving out any important fact.

To write a news ready press release (with a boilerplate) use this proven press release template

News journalists tend to be on much shorter deadlines and will perhaps work on anything up to ten news stories a day.

An average news story is usually between 30 – 400 words in print/online.

This is one of the big differences between a news story and a feature. Length.

And news agendas change faster than you can say “what’s my attention grabbing headline?” so don’t get disappointed if you were promised top billing on your favourite TV News show and suddenly find you get three seconds at the end. If you’ve had media training you’ll know how to make the most of any opportunity. 

That’s the nature of news.

Don’t take it personally, keep going and in the long run your efforts will pay off – especially if you’re always thinking how you can help a reporter out.

Feature Story Examples

Features are much more reflective and examine current trends, patterns, awareness days, mark an anniversary or take a more in-depth look at a current news story.

Features can usually include case studies to highlight a particular point that is being made or an issue being discussed.

They align much more closely with these sorts of marketing ideas for small business and can be part of an influencer marketing campaign. If you want to know more about those have a look at our pick of the best marketing books.

As a startup or a small business, you need to keep a close eye on the relevant media for you and think about how you could prepare case studies that may be of use to your target audience. Using a PR tool such as Response Source can help with this.

Offer them up when the time is right. Help the journalist to do their job.

Nowadays you will often see journalists using Twitter to find a particular case study for a feature they are working on.

Follow hashtags such as #prrequest and #journorequest and sign up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out) there are feature opportunities here EVERY day.

Feature writers are usually working to longer deadlines than the news writers so they have a bit more time to consider if you are right for their story.

A feature is also much longer than a news story, usually around 2,000 words, but can be much more.

Journalists are often looking for decent feature ideas so if you think you have one share it.

Pro warning. Don’t approach them with some advertorial trash, rather use the insight of your industry to give them an angle on something they may not have considered before.

A feature article can also include a lot of opinion and comment so don’t be afraid to share your views.

Remember, no reporter wants bland, beige quotes.

Unlike a news story a feature is not just about the facts, yes these are important, but a decent feature writer brings colour and description, much more so than in news, to hold the attention of the reader.

Help the writer to paint a picture with a brilliant case study and granular background detail.

Some Feature Story Examples To Give You A Clue

How do you keep bananas fresh?
A day in the life of an Amazon driver
Crazy nail art that has taken over social media
What mumpreneurs need to know

So that’s a quick overview of the crucial difference between a news story and a feature. 

If you’re still a bit unsure here’s a final headline-themed clue:

A news story: The First Flying Car Launched by Tesla

A feature: Will Flying Cars Change the Way We Commute?

Now it’s your turn, what will you write, a news story or a feature story?

Whatever you go for make sure you use one of the best media monitoring services to track your success. You don’t want to miss all that free PR.

And if you’re ready to take your PR work to the next level grab our PR Starter Kit.

Our must-have kit has every template, script, strategy and guide you’ll ever need to do PR – all in one place.


About Alistair Clay

Alistair is a former national journalist with 20 years’ experience working in the media and PR. He is the founder of UK healthcare agency Arc Seven Communications and a registered member of the PRCA.