The 6 Worst Press Release Headline Mistakes You Can Make

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Writing a great press release headline is one of the most important things you need to do to get your announcement read. A great headline entices the reader and invites them to check out your story. It tells them to keep reading.

Having said that, anybody who has been in this business for more than a few minutes has seen their fair share of terrible headlines … headlines that stop you cold and keep you from reading on.

What’s the problem with these headlines? It can usually be traced back to one of these 6 mistakes.

1.     Stuffing the headline with keywords – I’ve discussed the SEO value of press releases in the past, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a problem with most “optimized” press releases I come across. Forcing a keyword into your press release headline often makes the headline feel awkward and clunky. Remember, you’re writing for people first, search engines second. Over-optimization is the easiest way to alienate your readers.

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2.     Making the headline way too long – While there are no hard and fast rules about exact headline word length, it’s usually pretty clear when a press release headline is just way too long. By all means, you need to get across the main idea of your story, but you need to do so as quickly as possible and with a lot of punch.

3.     Misleading the reader – Nobody likes a liar, and it only takes one lie for you to lose all credibility with reporters and your customers. If you try to mislead people into thinking your story is about something that it’s not, just so you can get a few eyeballs on your press release, you’re only going to end up making a lot of people angry that you wasted their time.

4.     Putting it through the hype machine – You’re sending out a press release, not an advertisement. Press releases are supposed to be unbiased news stories. No hype. No unsubstantiated claims. Your press release headline shouldn’t read like the opening to an infomercial.

5.     Invoking no curiosity – No matter who you want to read your press release – reporters or consumers – they’re all starved for time, and they’re not going to read your press release if the headline doesn’t grab their interest. You need to engage their imagination and pique their curiosity so they’ll check to see what your story is really about.

6.     No specificity – If your headline doesn’t have specificity, it won’t be clear what your story is about. And when that happens, no one will put forth the effort to read on and figure it out.

What do you think are the biggest press release headline mistakes?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, 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:

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