As PR pros, we’ve all had writer’s block when it comes to developing an attention-grabbing headline. As content marketing efforts have increased dramatically, so has the importance of writing catchy, clickable headlines.
Whether it’s for an op-ed, blog post, email blast or press release, the title of your piece needs to grab the reader’s attention and entice them to continue reading (I’ll let you be the judge on whether I accomplished that feat today).
There are several aspects that make for an effective headline, including the four “u” rule by the American Writers and Artists Association. More than anything, you need an interesting story. Even the greatest headline writer in the world will fail with a boring or confusing story. That’s because the best headlines aren’t necessarily the ones that make people click — they’re the ones that promise great stories and then fulfill that promise. While challenging, the process of writing good headlines can make your story ideas better.
Which is why I was thrilled when I came across a recent PR Daily article titled, Infographic: How to write irresistible headlines, from A-Z, outlining a whole alphabet’s worth of headline-writing tips and tricks.
PR Daily’s editor, Robby Brumberg, highlights a handful of helpful takeaways from the extensive infographic of which I also believe are some of the most helpful ideas included in the infographic.
“Posing a question … remains one of the best ways to engage the reader.”
I find myself clicking headlines if they ask a question on a current topic and promise to answer it. It has always served as a teaser for me. But if this technique is used without providing answers, it can deter readers. It’s best practice to make sure this is only used if you are answering the question and providing some direction.
“What’s in it for your audience? What does she or he have to gain if they carry on reading? In the headline, tout a substantial benefit that a reader can pluck from your piece.”
My best advice is to keep it simple, clear and to the point. A good headline lets readers know the content has value and isn’t just clickbait (because it isn’t, right?). Headlines should convey that readers will either learn something new, glean impactful advice or be entertained and moved by the words coming next. Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Nike’s campaign for its Black History Month collection is a prime example that utilizes just the word “EQUALITY.” The word means so much to people and piques interest for broad engagement.
“Decisions are based on emotions”
Brumberg suggests that you “hit your readers directly in their pain points. Use visceral language that stirs emotions and lets your passion for your subject shine through in the headline.” Consumers are inundated with headlines and advertisements on multiple platforms, so their attention span is increasingly limited. The New York Times’ behind-the-scenes experiment of testing which headlines resonated with readers found that the headlines with the most success are clear, powerful, and written in a conversational tone.
Brumberg’s article is a helpful one-stop shop full of resources and ideas to get the creative juices flowing when developing your next headline. It’s one bookmark every PR pro should have saved on their browser.Tags: headlines, infographic, PR