How to write a great headline.


Good headlines aren’t good enough. To get media cut-through, we PR specialists need to know how to write GREAT headlines.

Remember - journalists are time-poor. They receive hundreds of press releases into their inbox every week, and a headline can actually make or break your media impact. Those few words determine whether a journalists bothers to even skim-read your release, or automatically bins it.

In my experience, there are three keys to writing a GREAT headline.

1. Keep it short, sharp, simple, sweet.

Headlines that grab attention quickly are short, sharp and simple. Hit the sweet-spot with journalists by keeping your message easy-to-understand. Avoid over-complicating your story with a long headline spanning two or three lines - try and keep it to no more than 10 words. I think the best headlines communicate clearly - they remove any need for a sub-header with more information.

2. Don’t over-think it!

The best headlines don’t have to be over-thought - just well-thought. I spend a few minutes crafting each headline for maximum cut-through. Don’t try and force a clever headline. If you’re having trouble writing something catchy or witty - stick to the simple. A simple, understandable, short headline is better than trying too hard and failing to nail the brief.

3. Leave it until last.

I often leave the writing of my headline until last - so I can summarise my copy sufficiently and succinctly. I really get a kick out of writing a good headline - and I often find the moments after finalising my copy are the best for inspiration and proper summation. It’s often one of my favourite parts of the whole press release to write!

Great headlines will help you get great media attention. Do your research - take the time to read headlines in newspapers, online and other organisation’s press releases for inspiration. 

Let’s go for great, not just good!

Katie Clift

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