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How to increase the open-rate of your headline

Posted by JournoLink in Business Tips on 26 April 2016 at 11:00

If only we could invent ‘Harry Potter-like’ tools to make a headline lift from the page and hit the reader between the eyes, life would be so much easier, wouldn't it?

As it is, we have to rely on the words to do the work all on their own. So here’s a five-point plan to create that winning headline for your next press release.

1. Be Provocative

First, make sure your headline seizes the attention of the reader. The test to see whether it has the sufficient ‘wow’ factor is to ask a nearby colleague or friend if it would tempt them to carry on reading. If their answer is a resounding ‘no’, then really challenge yourself on the vocab you’ve used and think, what could you add to really hook the reader?

2. Heighten Interest

Consider including ‘big names’ in your headline to heighten interest, such as a politician, a sports personality or an entertainment personality (but be sure you don’t liable anyone beforehand!). By including a big name, you will attract the attention of a relevant journalist or researcher, so be sure to include one if you can. In the same way, it’s also important to consider what keywords will jump out at journalists in your industry. For business journalists, words such as ‘unemployment’, ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘awards’ are more likely to catch their eye than ‘new product launch’.

3. Leverage Social Media

Social media is now a key news source and a hub of new content and journalist requests, so you’ll be sure to find a copious amount of journalists and bloggers on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Instead of relying on the traditional press release news wires, they’d much rather receive news directly from small business themselves. The media are constantly browsing these social platforms in search of their next story, so will you be the next business to contact them?

4. Timing is Everything

If you can piggyback off of a news story that’s already running and overtly link your headline to that, you will be more likely to gain press attention and even have journalists, who were covering the initial story, contacting you directly for comment. Try this out by including keywords that relate to the trending story, or the name of the company to which it relates, and wait for the journalist to come to you!

5. Be Succinct

Keep it short and snappy by using as few words as possible, ideally no more than eight. There’s two benefits to this, it creates less reading time for the journalists and therefore increases attention span and it also heightens the overall impact.

With the above plan in mind, write a draft headline before starting on your release and once it’s finished, go back and really challenge yourself. Does it have that powerful hook it really needs to make your press release stand out amongst the crowd?

Written By: Peter Ibbetson, Company Director

As one of the co-founders of JournoLink PR, Peter is passionate about giving small businesses a voice in the press by providing them with the support and advice to do just that. 

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