10 Knock-Their-Socks-Off Press Release Headline Writing Tips

When it comes to getting more people to read your press release, nothing does the job better than a well-written headline. After all, it’s the first thing people see, and if it sucks, they won’t click it to read your release. On the other hand, a killer headline can attract journalists and customers alike to your release, where they can click back to your website. We polled PR and brand experts to get 10 amazing tips you can use to improve your press release headlines.

1. Write as if it Were a Front Page Article

Envision your press release on the front page of a newspaper to determine if it’s newsworthy or not. Does the headline grab attention? If not, it probably needs some work.

Melissa L. James, marketing director at The Curtis Group[1], takes that idea one step further. She says writing your headlines as they’d look in a newspaper article can “show the reporter the article through his/her readers’ eyes.” This is a great strategy to appeal to journalists who you want to write about your news.

2. Use Active Voice

The style of your writing in the headline is as important as the words you use to attract readers. In general, passive voice takes readers out of the action and makes content less appealing. To engage your audience, use active voice. Brad Hem, account director at The Dialog Lab[2], also suggests avoiding “be” verbs.

3. Use Appealing Data

“Get to the heart of what your press release is really about in the headline,” Carrie Winans, public relations officer for SmartSign[3] says. It’s important to include the most interesting details there, “always prioritize statistics that prove the story is unique.” So, if your release talks about how you can reduce plaque by 48 percent — then use that statistic in the headline!

4. Use Clever Headlines

Judy Crockett, a retail management consultant[4], has had great luck using sensational or double-meaning headlines. “I worked with a jeweler that was having trouble earning the respect of his business colleagues. He spent a great deal on marketing and promotion,” she says. “Other business leaders in the downtown area where his store was located commented to each other that the jeweler would be ‘belly up’ with all this promotion. “So, I wrote a press release and sent it to the media with a photo. HEADLINE: ‘Jeweler Goes Belly Up.’ I included a photo of the jeweler lying on the floor of his store — belly up. Text: ‘Jimmy the Jeweler went belly up giving away one too many diamonds. To commemorate this momentous occasion, the store is giving away a one-karat diamond. Simply stop in and guess the “dead weight” of the jeweler.’ The media loved it and ran the story and photo. Several business members cut the press release out and brought it into the store — with a change of attitude.”

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