Messaging During COVID-19: Don’t Bury the Lede

by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

In journalism, reporters are taught, “Never bury the lede,” a reminder to focus first on the most important aspects of the story (defined as “the lede”) instead of spending several opening paragraphs on less vital details.

During this emergency, many pregnancy help organizations must close the doors of our offices. This is disappointing news, but this is not the “lede” to our story, for two reasons:

First, closing our offices is not news, because businesses everywhere are doing the same. Announcing to our supporters, “We’ve closed our offices for the foreseeable future” is, in journalistic terms, a “Dog Bites Man” story. There’s nothing “new” in our “news.”

Second, by first announcing closure, we’re missing the bigger story of what we are doing.

Consider two examples:

A message to our supporters . . .

Due to COVID-19, Family Hope Centers is closing our offices until at least April 7. We hope to reopen as soon as possible but for now, we do not want to put our staff and clients at risk.

We are still answering phone calls and delivering diapers and other items as needed. In addition, we continue our Earn While Your Learn Program by using an online platform, Bright Course. So, we are still helping clients.

Please pray for us, as we have many with needs and our staff faces burdens they have not faced before.

The above example begins with common knowledge (our offices are closed) before sharing our good news. In addition, our close is not exactly filled with optimism. Let’s try another approach:

The Mission Continues (and Grows) at Family Hope Center!

Family Hope Center is thrilled to announce that our mission grows as we find opportunities in this unprecedented time. Here is how:

  • Though our offices are temporarily closed, we remain committed to answering calls, chats and texts from those seeking our services. And, through our partnership with OptionLine and Heartbeat International, we are connecting with clients 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
  • We’re connecting with clients needing material assistance, even delivering needed goods door-to-door—expanding our outreach in new ways.
  • We are now offering material goods—such as diapers—to community agencies so they can meet the needs of their clientele, building bridges we may not have imagined just weeks ago.
  • Our medical staff is offering their assistance to local health agencies, creating new relationships on behalf of Family Hope Center as we meet the pressing needs of our community.
  • Our Earn While Your Learn mentoring initiative for new parents continues through Bright Course, an online application allowing us to stay connected with clients, serving them even more effectively during this time.

As we look to re-open our offices as soon as community guidelines allow, your continued prayers help us today and even beyond this moment. If we can serve you in any way, please contact us at 000-0000 or by email at (email address).

Thank you too, for your continued financial support. You continue to make a difference in the lives of our clients.

See the difference? Both articles carry similar news, but the second launches and ends with anticipation.

As we communicate with supporters and friends, this is our opportunity for creativity in messaging. Let’s use it well by focusing on the most important news, which is often positive and full of hope.


The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date. We are working to keep our articles up-to-date as changes surrounding COVID-19 occur, and we encourage everyone to check the CDC, WHO and their local authorities as the situation is ever-evolving.