September 20, 2017

Make sure every picture tells a story

How to write compelling captions

Too often, editors crank out captions (aka cutlines) in the 15 minutes before happy hour on a Friday night.

How to write compelling captions

Reach ’em where their eyes are Captions can be workhorses of communications — but only if you use them and use them well. Image by Jay Wennington

Their loss.

“No task involved in producing a newspaper has a greater disparity between its importance to the reader and its attention from most newsrooms than writing cutlines,” writes Steve Buttry, American Press Institute’s director of tailored programs.… Read the full article

Keep captions short

How to sell crisp cutlines to clients who want to include too much

“Help us with captions,” wrote Sue Grabowski, president of Grabowski & Co., in our recent member survey. “Our clients luuuuvvvvv to include long names, titles, etc. How can we make the caption shorter but keep the clients happy?”

Keep captions short

Small packages Use your captions to communicate a key message. Image by Tamara Bellis

Sue, I’d start by reminding clients that the real opportunity with a caption is to communicate a key message, not to identify who’s in the picture.… Read the full article

Heads up on benefits headlines

8 types of benefits headlines to choose from

Stuck for a benefits headline? Browse these eight approaches for inspiration:

Heads up on benefits headlines

Get your head around this Write a command, question or testimonial headline. Image by Silvia Viñuales

1. Direct headline

The simplest approach, this headline just states the benefit clearly:

Save $100 on conference registration when you sign up by Feb. 13

2. Indirect headline

Use this approach to attract attention, arouse curiosity and prompt the reader to read on to learn more.… Read the full article

Write colorful benefits heads

4 steps for telegraphing the biggest benefit

To write a good benefits headline, list:

Write colorful benefits heads

Heads up Write about ‘your greatest benefit for your reader’s greatest need,’ Image by Elizabeth Haslam

  1. Your readers’ biggest needs in the topic you’re writing about. “Write about your greatest benefit for your reader’s greatest need,” counsels marketing guru Dan Kennedy.
  1. All the problems your product will solve for your readers. You may need to ask more questions of your SME to find these.
Read the full article

‘They laughed when I sat down at the piano …’

Adapt proven benefits headlines

Here’s one secret of successful marketing copywriters: They steal.

'They laughed when I sat down at the piano …'

Play on Steal headlines from these winners. Image by M I S C H E L L E

Especially headlines. If a headline’s been proven to work in the past, good direct mail copywriters will use it again and again.

How could you adapt these headlines, from 2001 Greatest Headlines Ever Written ,to your campaign?

  • The people reading this will end up with your money
  • The five most costly mistakes in business: How many of them are you making?
Read the full article

If I’ve told you once …

The deck should expand on the headline, not repeat it

Your headline and deck — that one-sentence summary under your headline — are San Francisco real estate. Make sure each word does new work.

Don't replicate yourself

Don’t replicate yourself Don’t repeat words from the headline to the deck. Image by Morgan Wylie

So don’t repeat words from the headline in the deck.

That’s right: Not. One. Single. Word.

Not the name of the product.… Read the full article

Take a load off

Three ways to streamline your headline with your deck

When you’re covering news, your deck can report a different angle from the headline.

Take a load off

Give it a rest To keep your headline short, move your secondary angle to the deck. Image by Isa

This approach will help you avoid repeating elements from the headline in the deck:

When your headline covers:Your deck can cover:
The most important angleThe second-most-important angle
The general newsThe specific details
What happened
Read the full article

What happened? Why?

News in the headline, the reasons behind it in the deck

One way to avoid repeating yourself in your news headline and deck: Answer “What happened?” in the headline and “Why?” in the deck.

What happened? Why?

They’ve got questions But don’t put all of the answers in the headline. Image by Tintin44

These USA Today headlines demonstrate this approach. I include the leads here to give you more context for the story.… Read the full article

Made you look

Captions get 16% more readership than text

Too often, editors crank out captions (aka cutlines) in the 15 minutes before happy hour on a Friday night.

Made you look

Reach ’em where their eyes are Captions can be workhorses of communications — but only if you use them and use them well. Image by Manda

Their loss.

“No task involved in producing a newspaper has a greater disparity between its importance to the reader and its attention from most newsrooms than writing cutlines,” writes Steve Buttry, American Press Institute’s director of tailored programs.… Read the full article

Get the picture

Communicate with captions

“Doctored photographs are the least of our worries. If you want to trick someone with a photograph, there are lots of easy ways to do it. You don’t need Photoshop. You don’t need sophisticated digital photo-manipulation. You don’t need a computer. All you need to do is change the caption.”
— Errol Morris, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker

Pictures may be worth 1,000 words. But without words, images may not say what you intend for them to say.… Read the full article

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