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How to Write Better Press Release Headlines

Mar 9, 2010   //   by Mickie Kennedy   //   Press Releases, SEO Blog  //  34 Comments

What’s the most important factor that determines whether your press release gets read by an editor or thrown away? It’s the headline. With editors and journalists receiving hundreds of press releases each day, they typically scan over the headlines to determine which ones seem interesting enough to read fully.

With that in mind, your goal is to write a powerful headline that sucks cynical editors and journalists in, making them want to learn more about your story. This gives your press release the best chance of getting picked up, earning your company valuable coverage.

Here are some tips to write better press release headlines.

  • Strive for being clear rather than clever—Don’t write your headline to impress other writers by showing how “clever” you are. Editors are only concerned with trying to figure out what your story is about. Your press release headline should clearly reflect what’s covered in the body of your press release. Focus on answering as many of the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions in your headline as possible.

    Here’s a little test you can run to determine if your headline is clear enough or not. Send just the headline to several friends. Ask them to describe what they think the rest of the story is about. If they can’t make a decent guess, it’s probably time to rewrite your headline.

  • Make sure the headline is accurate—Don’t try to trick editors into reading your press release by misleading them in your headline. A misleading headline might grab their attention for a moment, but it will lead to them getting upset when they find out you’ve duped them. This will cause you to lose all credibility, and it will burn any potential relationships you have with the media.
  • Ditch the hype—Sure, the goal of press release distribution is to build brand awareness and to create a buzz around your brand. However, that doesn’t mean you should treat your press release like an advertisement for your products and services. It’s not. So, your headline shouldn’t sound like Billy Mays (RIP) wrote it. By all means, be interesting, but above all else, be factual and straightforward.
  • Lists work—There’s no denying it: List headlines just work. You see them on blogs, magazine covers, and in newspapers. The reasons lists work are because they clearly describe what the story is about, are easy to scan through quickly, and can create controversy and debate.

    So, when you’re thinking of an angle for your press release, try to find a way to structure it in list form. I think you’ll find it gets a lot more attention than most other headline formats.

  • Keep it short—If you can’t get the main idea across in about 10 words or less, you don’t have a good enough grasp on what your message really is. Remember, the reporters and editors you’re sending your press release to are in a hurry. They’ll likely only give you a few seconds of their attention, so you need to get your message across quickly. Focus on creating concise headlines that clearly deliver your message. Write several different versions of your headline to find the perfect combination of brevity and clarity.
  • Include the targeted keyword—Never forget the importance of optimizing your press release. The search engines tend to favor press releases, giving them high rankings for the targeted keywords. Always try to get your main keyword in the headline, and whenever possible, place it toward the front of the headline.

Do you use press releases to spread the word about your business? How have your press release marketing efforts helped your business? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here: press release samples

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