#Great tips: Tips for Writing Headlines Journos Love

What would you add to this list from PR Daily? I’d add 1) Error free, 2) Write it for the right audience and 3) Simple, easy to understand. A short headline does not necessarily mean it is simple or easy to understand.

Peter Rukavina, Creative Commons Flickr
Peter Rukavina, Creative Commons Flickr

1. Keep it short. Headlines should convey your central message within 60 to 80 characters.

If you can’t do that, you haven’t refined your hook enough. Try using strong verbs, like the word “pioneer” in the second example above.

2. Be specific. A headline like, “2015 is best year yet” is insanely general. The best year for what? Why was it the best year?

This title may catch a journalist’s eye because they’re wondering what they heck you’re talking about, but it isn’t a great press release title.

3. Avoid braggadocio. Words like “awesome” and “magnificent” in the first example above add nothing to the press release.

In fact, they make it look more like a sales pitch. Stick to the facts.

4. Be interesting. “Rex Corp hires new CEO” isn’t very interesting, but “Rex Corp promotes janitor to CEO” is.

Pinpoint the most interesting aspect of your news item and highlight it in your headline.

5. Use interesting data. Data, numbers, records and percentages catch a journalist’s eye; include them in your press releases when you can.

Example: Medford Humane Society leads region in cat rescue

Example: Medford Humane Society rescued a record 5,423 cats this year

6. Avoid jargon. What does “10 KPWs decimate local podapoda crop 1,089” even mean?

Remember, you’re writing for a layperson who may have no knowledge of your industry, so keep it simple. Try something like: “Mutant insects destroy 50 percent of local organic food supply.”

7. Write it for the right journalist. If your news is intended for a specific industry, write your headline with the proper journalist in mind.

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