Picture the last time you were flipping through the newspaper or scrolling through your phone: How many articles did you actually read as opposed to just skim past? What made you want to read one article over another? The answer is most likely an eye-catching, tell-me-more headline.
The same holds true for a press release. People are inundated with emails and press releases. If you want yours to stand out and be read, you need a press release distribution service that can create an effective press release headline. So, how do you determine a great press release headline?
This guide will go over some press release headline tips and give you advice on how to write a press release headline that will grab readers attention and pull them into your carefully crafted press release.
What Makes a Good Press Release Headline? According to studies, readers of news articles (and, we can extrapolate, of press releases) lose attention quickly. While 100% will read the headline, only 70% will get to the first paragraph, and that number keeps dropping until you’re down to 10% by paragraph four.1 Instead of viewing this as a negative, let’s focus on the positive number: 100% of people will read your headline.
So the better you can make that headline, the more likely you are to get people to keep reading.
One of the key ways to ensure your headline achieves that goal is by making sure it answers a very simple question: Who Cares?2
Who Cares? It would be nice if everyone always cared about what we were trying to tell them, but that isn’t always the case. Luckily there’s a plus side—knowing that not everyone will care about what you’re putting out into the world allows you to focus on and speak directly to the people who will be interested in what you have to say. Who are these people? Your target audience.
Here are a couple of things to think about when answering, who cares?:
Who is your audience? – Who is going to read your press release? While the simple answer is the press, think deeper. What sort of journalist will be interested? What niche are you speaking to? Will your headline be distributed on the internet and be read by people other than the press? By focusing on who you’re talking to, you can get a better sense of what will grab their attention.
What are you trying to say? – This is an important piece that allows you to simplify your headline into a short, digestible few words. It’s easy to get caught up in details and lose the forest from the trees. Focus on your main objective, and your best headline will start to become clear.
Why is your piece important? – This speaks directly to the “who cares” question. If you know who you’re talking to and what you’re trying to say, you then need to answer why your press release is a great press release that is worth reading. What makes you unique? If you can convey this in your headline, people will be intrigued enough to keep reading.
How Long Should My Press Release Headline Be? Now that you know what you should be thinking about when crafting a headline let’s zero in on the ideal press release headline format. Keeping it short is a good general rule, but is there a specific length you should be shooting for in your press release headline? There are a couple of factors to consider:3
Many editorial systems will only show the first 55 characters of a headline.
Search engines will only show the first 70 characters of a headline.
Social channels will likely show the full headline.
With that in mind, ideally, you should keep your compelling headline short enough that the whole thing will show up and be readable. While you can get away with longer press release headlines in some scenarios, keeping your headline less than ten words will maximize its effectiveness.
Press Release Headline Tips and Tricks Keep it short. Know your audience. Answer the question of who cares. These are all important things to focus on, but other additions can help you grab the readers attention in the limited space a headline provides:4
Use numbers – If you were looking to start a diet, which of these press release headlines would better grab your attention?
Lose Weight Quickly
Lose 10 Pounds in 20 Days
It’s the second one, right? Using numbers creates a more compelling picture for your reader and makes them interested in the rest of your content. It also conveys a sense of specificity, which leads us to the second tip.
Be specific – You know what you’re writing about, right? Show that by being as specific as possible in your headline. It’s easy to think that using general phrases creates a sense of mystery that may intrigue the reader, but in reality, it only muddies what you’re saying and will make a reader question the worth of your press release. Specificity breeds trust, and trust leads to engagement.
Implement active voice – Using active voice as opposed to passive voice can help your headline writing in a couple of ways. First, it’ll often save you some words as the active voice is more direct and to the point. Second, passive voice is boring. It reads as detached and academic, whereas an active voice is more likely to elicit an emotional response.
Employ punctuation – Another way to reduce your word count is by employing some well-timed punctuation. Dashes, colons, and even commas can take the place of joining words like “to”, “or”, and “and.” This lowers your character count and can add creativity and voice to your headline.
Create urgency – You’ve seen false urgency before: Buy Now! Supplies Are Running Out! Avoid this type of gimmicky insistence in your headlines, but do try to create some urgency. Why should someone read this press release now? If people feel like your press release can wait, they’re more likely to put it aside and forget about it altogether.5
Don’t sell – People are very good at knowing when someone is trying to sell them something. It’s a turn-off, so don’t do it in your headline. Your information should be able to stand on its own and sell itself. If it doesn’t, then you’re not going to be able to fix that by using advertising language in your headline. Instead, remain factual.
Be unique – If you want to break through the noise of modern society, you need to stand out. Anyone can follow these tips to write a good headline, but no one else can be you. It can be daunting to try to show uniqueness in less than ten words, but a creative, stand-out headline is the best way to create intrigue.
Comedy – Comedy is a tricky thing. It can be an effective tool to grab people’s attention or it can be a fast way to turn people off and make yourself sound unserious. If you are thinking about a comedic or punny headline, ask yourself two questions first:
Is this actually funny?
Is this appropriate to my content?
If the answer to both questions is yes, then go for it. If the answer to either question is no, or you just aren’t sure, then sticking to a more straightforward headline is probably best. Wondering if your press release headline is successful? Be sure to check press release analytics to measure your KPIs. This way, you can optimize your future releases to ensure success.
When to Write the Headline There are different schools of thought when it comes to when you should write your press release headline. Should you write it first, before the rest of your content? Or should you wait until everything else is done before crafting your headline? There are arguments in favor of each approach:
Write your headline first – One way to think of your headline is as a promise you’re making to readers. It is a distillation of everything that comes after. For some people, writing the headline first allows them to organize their thoughts and focus on the essence of their press release without getting bogged down in all the details.
Write your headline last – On the other hand, how are you supposed to know what the essence of your press release is before you’ve written it? By focusing on the body text first, you can share your message and then figure out the best way to distill it into a headline.
What works best for you will depend on your personality, your writing style, and how your brain works. Maybe inspiration will strike halfway through writing, and that will be the best time for you. Just know that your headline is important and give it the time you need to make it stand out amongst your competitors.
Maximize Your Reach with ACCESSWIRE Crafting an eye-catching, attention-grabbing headline is the first and most important step to getting your press release read. Well, actually, it might be the second.
At ACCESSWIRE, our press release distribution services will make sure that your press release reaches your target audience in the most timely and affordable way possible.
Our wide distribution for a flat fee will help you connect better, farther, faster and smarter—because before you can grab people’s attention with your headline, you have to get your press release in front of them. At ACCESSWIRE, we have the expertise to make that happen.