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Headlines for Humans: Reel In Real Journalists

Headlines change lives. Think I’m being dramatic? Get this. You could be sitting on top of the most interesting news in the world and the world will pass it by if your press release has a boring headline. 

Nerdy bored businessman working on computer in his officeCheck out the difference between these two headlines:

#1 A Magnificent New Treatment is Being Used in Medicine for some Awesome Things!

#2 Mayo Clinic Doctors Pioneer First Cancer Cure

Whoa! Curing cancer is a big deal, but if you hide it behind headline number one, journalists may not even realize what they’re reading. The cancer cure will stay hidden and millions of people could suffer!

Okay, maybe the results of your press releases aren’t quite that dramatic, but you get my point. A headline should succinctly tell a journalist what they’re about to read. Further, it should pique his or her interest and make them want to read more. Here are some tips for writing headlines for real journalists:

1.)  Keep it Short – Headlines should convey your central message within 60-80 characters. If you find you can’t do that, then you haven’t refined your hook enough yet.  Tip: Try using strong verbs, like the word “pioneer” in example #2 above.

2.)  Be Specific – “2015 Best Year Yet” is insanely general. The best year for what? Why was it the best year? Sure, this title may catch a journalist’s eye simply because they wonder 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 example #1 above add nothing to the press release. In fact, they make it look more like a sales pitch. Stick to the facts, ma’am. (Or sir.)

4.)  Be Interesting – “Rex Corp Hires New CEO” isn’t very interesting. “Rex Corp promotes Janitor to CEO” is extremely interesting.  Pinpoint the most interesting aspect of your news item and highlight it in your press release headline.

5.)  Use Interesting Data – Think of “Medford Humane Society Leads Region in Cat Rescue” vs. “Medford Humane Society Rescued a Record 5,423 Cats This Year.” Data, numbers, records, and percentages catch a journalist’s eye. Include data in your press releases when you can.

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 accessible. Try: “Mutant Insects Destroy 50% of Local Organic Food Supply.”

7.)  Send it to the Right Journalist – But if your news is intended for a specific industry, right your headline with an eye to the right journalist. “New Upgrade Makes Kronobots 50% Faster” may be earth-shattering news in your tiny niche Kronobot industry. But the editor of your local newspaper will likely have no clue what you’re talking about and trash your press release. Make sure you send niche news to niche journalists.

Follow these tips and your big news won’t end up at the bottom of the pile!

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/offer/prchecklist.html

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