4 THE BIOGRAPHY AND BACKGROUNDER Bringing Your Subject to Life

Public relations biographies, often referred to as bios, follow two forms. The first, newspaper style, offers background information in a simple and comprehensive way organized as an inverted pyramid, with the most recent and most important information given first. The other is a feature biography, which is more like a magazine story or personality profile.

This chapter discusses the creation and structure of news and feature bios, obits, backgrounders, fact sheets, time lines, and bibliographies. Biographies
Writing an effective bio has ten steps:
1. Work from a sensibly constructed outline.
2. Command authority with the lead.
3. Clarify, simplify, and condense.
4. Vary language and sentence structure.
5. Connect thoughts.
6. Attribute quotations.
7. Back up all your claims.
8. Use one tense.
9. Assume nothing on the part of the reader.
10. Proofread carefully.

The framework for all bios is similar and generally conforms to the following outline:

• Opens by identifying the subject by name, title, and other relevant attributes

• Summarizes the scope of the person’s activities

• Offers educational and professional background on the person

• Saves personal information for the end, if such data are to be included at all



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