My previous posts discussed some general techniques for writing the killer news release.
Today I’m going to focus on one of the most important techniques, writing a headline that grabs the reader’s attention.
The headline is the most important part of the release. This is what the reporters will see and what will show up in the search engines.
It’s estimated that reporters spend three to five seconds deciding whether they might use a news release. Most people browsing online probably spend even less time. This means it’s important to get your news out quickly.
Make your headline short. The American Press Institute recommends keeping the headline to eight words or fewer.
Unless your company is well-known, do not use your company name in the headline. Use keywords instead (e.g., “widget manufacturer” instead of “Acme Widgets”). Keywords are the words your target audience would use to se arch for information on your type of product, service or information.
If you don’t know your keywords, research them at services such as Google (https://adwords.google.com) or Wordtracker (http://www.Wordtracker.com). You’ll get an idea of the relative popularity of terms and a better idea about how to optimize your release.
Write your headline in present tense and active voice. “Bill hit the ball” is more powerful than “the ball was by Bill.”
Use the subject-verb-object format. In the example above, “Bill” is the subject; “hit” is the verb and “ball” is the object. This format is strong and will attract attention.
Use short words, one syllable if possible.
Avoid using the word “announce” or “introduce” in your headline or lead. These words automatically weaken the announcement.
Here are some real examples of headlines from some successful news releases:
“New Color Printing Technology is the First to Deliver High-Speed, Quality Color at a Breakthrough Price/Performance”
“Construction Management Software Integrates Schedule”
“Hands-on Training for Home Improvement Do-It-Yourselfers Offered in San Jose”
After you’ve written your headline, ask yourself what effect would it have on someone reading it for the first time. Or, better yet, get feedback from others. If they don’t think the target reader would keep on reading, re-write the headline.
There are some variations on this theme, which I’ll discuss later.
Have you had some highly effective headlines? What have you found that “works”? I’ve love to hear from you.
In the meantime, you can see examples of news releases on my website at https://communicationsplus.net/WritingExamples.html.
Susan Monroe says
This excellent post is one I should have read years ago when I was writing press releases all the time. Clients, and the agencies I worked with, seemed to love long headlines, and they always wanted the company’s name prominently featured.