Written by Andrea Arul
You could say that a press release is the most basic tool in a PR practitioner’s kit. It’s an item that has been used long before the days of fax (yes we’re here to remind you of a time people faxed releases) and mail.
According to Neil Patel, content and digital marketing specialist, press releases are exceptional branding and credibility tools, and we couldn’t agree more with him. These news releases help a brand tell their story and build trust with their customers.
The most common structure of a press release would include:
Introduction / lead
But today we’re going to focus on the first and most important element : the headline.
At the end of the article you should have the knowledge to write a headline that is able to not only capture your audience’s attention but effectively deliver your message.
Before we get into it, its important to understand a few things:
Journalists are very busy people and are generally chasing deadlines.
They get thousands of emails and press releases on a daily basis and can miss emails too.
Thus the importance of a concise, interesting headline! So let’s get to it!
Many a time when we’re tasked with writing a press release we always ask ourselves:
“What would I want to read if I were a journalist”
Tone of the Headline
Your headline should be able to encapsulate the tone, essence and content of the release and the news that you are disseminating.
Is the story a serious one? A happy one? An announcement? Or is it a review?
Here are some examples:
Headline 1 : Banish dry skin with ABC’s new Moisturiser
Headline 2 : ABC launches new skin care product
Our first headline tells us the new skin care product helps solve a specific skincare problem: dryness. It gives the brand a bit more character with the use of the word ‘banish’ and tells the journalist just enough.
The second headline however, does not convey nearly as much information. It tells us that ABC has launched a new product but nothing beyond that leaving us with a “so what” thought. Not good. If this were a subject line in an email it probably wouldn’t pique much of the journalists interest.
Which brings us to question, can we improve our first headline? It gets the job done but is it interesting?
If your product has a key ingredient it could add more value, for instance:
Headline 3 : Banish Dry Skin With ABC’s New XYZ Rich Moisturiser!
You could also stray from the obvious path and create something a little more fun.
Headline 4 : You’re going to hear “OMG” A Lot with ABC’s Latest Moisturise
Headline 5 : You Won’t Stop Touching Yourself with ABC’s Latest Moisturiser
Depending on how daring and fun your brand, puns and good natured humour always work.
Remember that you’ll still have the sub-head and the rest of the press release to explain the product so don’t go too crazy but have fun with it.
With the digital era upon us we must also consider what already is the next step in generating traffic, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
While we may not be experts in the field we have done our fair share of research and can confidently say identifying your brands keywords is crucial in staying relevant, especially in the online space.
Many focus efforts into inserting keywords in their body text but should also feature them prominently in the title. They play a critical role in your press release’s visibility on search engines and we in the industry need to embrace this change altering our strategies a little.
Its also important to note that that search engines favour human-friendly language, so don’t try to use sensational language in your headline, rather use simple words that people use on a daily basis.
Short and Concise
Nobody likes a long draggy presentation and the same applies to headlines. Journalists and readers alike would appreciate one that is short and to the point.
Having a long headline can also potentially confuse the reader or cause them to lose interest. As it is the first impression of your release, it shows them that the body of the article will mirror the headline, which is long and boring. Readers may also find it hard to understand and get lost in what you are trying to say. What we’ve found to work are those that are usually 50-60 characters long though its more of a loose guide than a strict rule.
But enough about headlines! (because we could go on for much longer and we can’t spill all our secrets)
So the next time you’re preparing to write a press release, remember that the headline is your way to make a great first impression. A well written, engaging headline hooks readers and also provides immediate scope of your release’s content. Keep our few handy tips in mind and hey if you have more questions just call us!
We’ll catch you next month!