In order to get media coverage, you need to give journalists a story. Writing an effective press release can be the key to building your brand’s reputation, earning media coverage and growing your online presence. Having an effective press release is only half of the battle, you need to get people to actually read it and that starts with an attention-grabbing headline.
The headline of your press release will get a journalist’s attention and convince them that you have a story worth telling. In essence, it should be your entire story distilled into a few words. You should invest as much time curating the headline as you do in writing the body of the press release. Yes, it’s that important. With newsrooms across all industries cutting staff, today’s journalists are extremely busy and receive hundreds of press releases every day. Your company’s press releases will stand out if they have excellent headlines. This is easier said than done, so we have come up with 6 essential tips for writing a great press release headline.
Imagine Your Article As A Front Page News Story
Envision your press release on the front page of a newspaper to determine if it’s newsworthy or not. Does the headline grab attention? If you saw your own headline amidst multiple other news stories would you still read it? The theory here is in the mindset that you have when you write. If you believe it to be and if you frame it as important, then it will be received that way.
Use Active Voice To Paint A Picture
The style of your writing in the headline is as important as the words you use to attract readers. In general, passive voice takes readers out of the action and makes content less appealing. To engage your audience, use active voice. Using a passive voice removes your audience from the story and makes your news less exciting. The headline of a press release is like a trailer to a movie. People need to be engaged enough in the story to want to dive deeper.
Use Punctuation Effectively
A well-placed period, dash, or quotation marks can make your headline cleaner and clearer, it can infuse your headline with style and voice and, most importantly, it allows you to say more in a small space.
Quickly identify the absolute core information in your press release. Press release information is often time sensitive and journalists work on extremely tight deadlines, therefore they do not have time to read fluffy language that is irrelevant to their future articles. Your headline needs to convey the main information of your press release in a clear and concise manner. Utilizing punctuation that can extend an idea or transition into a new one extremely important.
Focus On Keywords
Keywords are phrases and words frequently used by your industry, customers and reporters that describe specific services or products. Once the body of your press release is finalized, go through and identify the words and phrases you included that are popular in your industry and can help amplify the impact of your news to your readers.
Once you have identified the keywords or phrases from your press release that showcase why this is relevant and important news, you can take it a step further. A keyword tester allows you to search a term or phrase and see how popular that word is with a specific audience. Google Trends is a free service that Google offers to show writers, content creators, marketers and PR pros what information people are looking for within Google search. Platforms like this allow you to search the words and phrases in your news release to see which terms may be most useful to reach and activate your audiences.
Is Your Headline Too Short, Too Long Or Just Right?
While shorter headlines are generally preferred, it is important that your headline provides key information to journalists and readers. Ideal headline character counts can vary by platform and news partner.
- Many editorial systems show the first 55 characters of your news release headline.
- Search engines showcase the first 70 characters of your headline.
- Social channels tend to pull in the entire headline (along with your Business Wire news release summary).
This means you have between 8-15 words in your headline to entice reporters and your readers into opening your release.
Finally, Who Cares?
The biggest challenge with your press release is to make sure that people read your headline and care about learning more. When crafting your press release headline, the question at the forefront of your mind should always be “who cares?” You need to know who your targeted audience is and how to reach them. If you have confidence in the story you are providing, that confidence will translate through your headline into interest from journalists and the audience it is intended for.
Grabbing a journalist’s or a reader’s attention can all come down to your headline. As the first thing that people will see, it can make or break the level of coverage your news story receives, regardless of the quality of content in the body of the release. From writing like your article is on the front page of a newspaper to making sure your word choice and grammar are in sync, there are more than a few ways you can ensure your headline will garner the greatest amount of attention. Following these tips will guide your press release and headline towards maximum media coverage, maximum reader interest and maximum results.
Victoria Evans is an account coordinator at Flackable, an award-winning public relations agency representing financial and professional services brands nationwide. To learn more about Flackable, please visit flackable.com.