How long should your headline be?
Here are three ways to write news release headlines that readers want to read and that journalists want to cover:
1. Lead with the reader.
Journalists care about their readers. And their readers care about themselves, not about you and your stuff. So take a tip from these PRSA Silver Anvil winners, and lead with the reader:
Blood Cancer Patients and Advocates Visit Capitol Hill to Inspire Continued Support for Be the Match
July 18 Legislative Day event aimed at delivering more cures to patients in need
Teens Get Opportunity to Celebrate With an Idol
State Farm and Grammy Award Winner Kelly Clarkson team up for teen driver safety
Parents and teen drivers dangerously disconnected
New State Farm survey reveals an alarming gap between parents’ and teens views on driver safety licensing laws
Repeat after me: The topic isn’t the topic. The product isn’t the topic. Your organization isn’t the topic. The reader is the topic.
2. Use strong verbs.
“A story is a verb, not a noun,” writes Byron Dobell, former editor of Esquire. The verb is the story. Something should be happening here. So model the strong verbs in these two Wall Street Journal heads:
Stocks Roar Back Late in Day
Medicare Flip-Flop Roils Elderly
And avoid weak PR verbs: announces, launches, partners and introduces.
3. Don’t get your head cut off.
To avoid getting your head cut off by Google, social, mobile or readers, keep your headline to 30 to 40 characters or less. At 36 words long, this is a paragraph, people:
UPDATE – INVESTOR ALERT: Levi & Korsinsky, LLP Commences an Investigation of the Board of Directors of Entropic Communications, Inc. In Connection With the Fairness of the Sale of the Company to MaxLinear Inc. — ENTR
But don’t make it too short: Google prefers headlines of at least 5 words. Shorter, and your release may not get indexed.
Learn my full system for getting more coverage with PR writing.