My previous post discussed how to write a good headline for a news release. Here are more tips.
Use a benefit headline for more impact.
Instead of starting with the hard news angle, you could begin with the benefit of your announcement. This will help you stand out in the crowd.
Benefit headlines typically “flag” the reader by industry, occupation, demographics or the like. You can use more words in a benefits headline than in a news or feature head, according to the New York University School of Retailing.
For example, instead of saying that “MedicinePro Announces New Allergy Medication that Reduces Allergy Symptoms by 20 Percent,” you would write that “New Medication Reduces Allergy Symptoms by 20 Percent” or even “New Medication from MedicinePro Reduces Allergy Symptoms by 20 Percent.”
Or instead of saying that “Computer Helper, Inc., Reduces Prices on Computer Services,” you could say that “Small Businesses Can Get Expert Computer Help at Lower Cost.”
Or instead of saying that “Numbers Inc. Announces New Tax Software,” you could say that “New Tax Software by Numbers Inc. Reduces Tax-Preparation Time by 20 Percent.”
Got the idea? Try it. You might like it.
Here is an analysis of how a news announcement could be handled. See how the different headlines make a different impact.
Headline: BlockIt Unveils Accurate Filter for Internet Content
Comment: This is weak. “Unveils” is not much better than “announces.” The headline leads with the company name, which may not be well-known enough to draw attention. The type of product is not mentioned until the end. The benefit (“affordability”) is not stated at all.
Alternate Headline: BlockIt Introduces New Internet Content Filter that Employs Context-based Technology
Comment: Also weak. Again starts with company and uses “introduces,” which is just another form of “announces.” The headline focuses on the feature (“context-based technology”) rather than the benefit.
Second Alternate Headline: New Internet Content Filter Makes Online Filtering Affordable for Small Businesses
Comment: The best of the group. Puts the type of product at the beginning, which is good for search engines and people. And highlights the product’s benefit, rather than features.
Write a subhead or summary to help search engine placement.
Most releases benefit from having a subhead, which expands on the headline. Alternatively, some wire services let you include a summary at the beginning, which takes the place of a subhead.
Subheads and summaries are good for online use, as the search engines will pick them up and display them after the headline.
In writing your subhead:
- Use different words from your headline.
- Explain the story in one sentence.
- Use sentence capitalization without a period.
- Keep the subhead short. The American Press Institute recommends keeping it under 14 words.
Here are real examples of real headline and subhead combinations:
Headline: Network Internet-Content Filter Makes Accurate Filtering Affordable
Subhead: Easy-to-use device ideal for schools, libraries and small businesses where cost and cost of ownership are critical concerns
Headline: New Color Printing Technology is the First to Deliver High-Speed, Quality Color at a Breakthrough Price/Performance
Subhead: Page-wide technology, backed by 1,400 U.S. patents, is available for OEMs targeting home, office, photo-kiosk and label markets
Headline: Village Enterprise Fund Helps Break the Cycle of Poverty in East Africa
Subhead: Quantifiable results attest to effectiveness of seed capital, training and mentoring program
Got the idea? Do you have other examples of good (or not-so-good) headlines and subheads. I’d love to learn of them.
In the meantime, you can see examples of headlines at my website at www.CommunicationsPlus.net/WritingExamples.html
Susan Monroe says
The following is a bad example for all the reasons you’ve noted, Kay. And I’m embarrassed to admit that I wrote it.
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