How to write a press release headline

An eye-catching press release headline will enhance your chance of getting published, and achieving the aim of your document – getting press. When you send off a press release, the person on the receiving end is most likely busy meeting deadlines, so you need to pique their interest with a great headline, before delivering on the promise of the headline with compelling content. It’s like baking a cake, you need to follow a great recipe.

According to surveys, 80% of potential reader’s just scan headlines. Only 20% of those, impressed by what they have scanned, go on to read the whole press release. A great press release headline will dramatically increase your chances of getting published

A good press release headline has to convey to the reader the essence of the content. The good or exciting news, proper keywords, and the information has to be cleverly put together in as few words as possible. That looks like a tough proposition. If you follow a few ground rules, you will find that writing effective press release headlines will come naturally to you, and your success rate will increase.

The Essentials Aspects of a Great Press Release Headline

Address your target audience

Define your target audience before even attempting a press release headline. Who are you addressing and what are you trying to convey? Is it a particular age group, profession, location, income level, gender or marital status? Your press release headline will change even when you are addressing different age groups, let alone professionals and laymen.

Be informative

Be clear about what information you want to convey to your audience. Having defined your target audience, you will be in a better position to get your message across at a glance in the headline. Be precise and explicit when writing your press release headline. Come to the point and avoid vague or misleading headlines.

Consider the publishing media

Consider the media across which you plan to publish your press release. Twitter allows you only 280 characters for tweet, of which the URL will take up some characters. Hence the ideal length for a headline on Twitter should be between 70-100 characters. LinkedIn does allow 80-120 characters for a headline, but SEO experts opine that a Facebook headline should not exceed 40 characters.  

If you intend to publish your press release in newspaper or magazines, write a headline for the editor. Your press release has to get past the editor to get into the issues pages. The platforms across which you publish your press release will largely determine the length of its headline.

Write an SEO-friendly headline

Optimise the press release headline to make it SEO friendly. Use the keyword that you use in the body of the text in the headline. The keyword has to blend seamlessly into the headline of the press release. This will make it both SEO-friendly as well as alluring to prospective readers. Try and place the keyword at the beginning of your headline.

Limit your headline to 7-10 words

As we have seen earlier the platforms across which you mean to publish the press release will determine the length of the headline. But have you noticed how many characters of a headline search engine displays in a search? All the headlines displayed get cut off after 55 to 60 characters.

If you limit your headline to not more than 60 characters, the search engine will most likely display the full headline. That is the reason you should front-load the keyword in your press release headline.

Grammar, punctuation and spelling

A press release headline has to be grammatically correct and properly punctuated. That is why the keyword has to merge naturally in the headline. You can use a colon in a press release headline to good effect by relating two different clauses. Improper grammar or a misspelt word may put off a reader who might a prospective customer or a business partner. That will mean losing a good part of your audience.

Capitalise the headline

The words constituting a press release headline should be properly capitalised. That is because a large part of your audience tends to just scan a headline. The first three words of a headline and the last three, make the most impression on a human mind. Capitalised words make a bigger impression and that aspect has to be exploited when writing a press release headline.

Avoid using professional jargon

Technical or scientific terms used in your business, will not difficult to understand for your less knowledgeable audience. Address your audience in terms that laymen will understand. By doing that you are inviting a wider audience a chance to read and comprehend your press release. Rest assured that professionals will also understand what you want to convey.

Avoid using names in the title

Don’t use the name of your company in the press release headline if it is not the talk of the town. Big companies like Pepsi and Microsoft can and do start most of their press releases wit their names in the headlines. But if you try that, you will be wasting precious words that you can put to better use in the headlines. Don’t name a personality unless the person mentioned has a big following and is relevant to the product that you are promoting.

Write headline in an active voice

Use active voice in your press release headline to involve your audience. A passive voice makes your headline less alluring as it excludes your audience from the action. Passive voice also makes the headline sound negative and are likely to put off prospective readers. Use passive voice, if and only if, it allows you to frontload your headline with the two most important words and the keyword.

How to Write an Effective Press Release Headline

Write as many headlines as you can

As you are about to write the press release, write as many headlines as possible with the keyword in it. Keep the headlines aside. As you write the body of your press release, many new headline ideas will strike you. Note these down also. Finalise the headline after you have finished writing the press release.

Take a look at all the headlines once you have completed writing the press report. Now go through the following tips and see how you can improve on the headlines that you have noted down.

Try changing the position of the words

See how you can improve the positioning of words to make your headline most effective. Remember the first three words effect. Startle the reader into realising that he is reading something interesting. You can use the rest of the words in the headline to convey the full message and get the reader into reading the press release.

Use power words in the title

Use power words to draw the attention of your audience. Amazing, sensational, remarkable, introducing, shocking and free are some of the words that evoke interest. If used at the start of a press release headline, they can enhance your readership considerably. Guarantee, offer, revolutionary and startling, if used appropriately in the headline, can also provide good results.

Use data and statistics

Use verifiable data or statistics in your headline. Readers tend to trust data-backed information which you can use to your advantage. If you are going to mention any data or statistics in the body of your press release, try and include it in your headline. If you have figures, percentages, Dollars, or amounts that you can mention put them to good use in your headline.

Use numerals in the headline

Use numbers to start your headline. Numbers, like data and statistics, make for a better rapport and engagement with your audience. Numbers register quickly on a human mind. So a reader who might ordinarily register the first three words while scanning the headline might scan four words. Numbers in a headline also give readers an idea of what they are in for as far as the length of the press report goes.

Offer solutions to your audience

Offer solutions to your customers. “How to… “ is among the most used and successful beginning to a headline for press releases. “Does your lawn need this amazing fertiliser?’ will also garner a lot of readers because a lot of readers have lawns. Tell your customers what they will gain from using your product or services in your press release headline.

Ask a question and answer it

Ask a question and provide an answer. In asking a question about the reader’s problem you are empathising with him. Since you are offering a solution to the problem you are his saviour. You are more likely to get more readership and positive action from this approach. But make sure that if you ask a question, you provide an answer to the question.

Be humorous

Be funny. Funny press release headlines can appeal to an audience also. Readers like to know that a company that offers serious products has a funny bone. But one must be careful not to take humour too far, lest you completely lose the audience. A failed attempt at a funny headline can do more harm than good.

Use a command

You can use a command in the press release headline to give a subtle call to action. Sign up now, try using, buy now, stop, go don’t are commands that can be used effectively in a press release headline to entice a reader to both read the body and take positive action. Along with a  command, there also has to be a good explanation of the advantage of following the command. A hint can be provided in the title and the rest of the explanation can be in the body of the press release.

Offer a guarantee

Offer guarantee. If your product or service is guaranteed to deliver what it promises, use it in your headline by all means. Readers like nothing better than guarantees even if it costs them a little more. If the guarantee is time-bound, you can still use it in the press release headline to attract a wider audience.

State the benefits of your product

Try listing the benefits of using your product or service. “5 benefits of using…” will make a good press release headline. The headline also has the advantage that it starts with a number and can garner more audience attention. Or you can mention the biggest advantage of using the product in the headline and list the other benefits in the body of the press release.

Keep the headline small and sweet

Keep your press release headline as brief and to the point as possible. Try to include as much relevant information in the headline without making it too long for a search engine. Long headlines can bore reporters and editors too.

Write the headline last

We have just been through all the tricks that you can use to write a great press release headline. Now go through all the headlines that you have noted down. Check how many of them rewritten using any or more of the tips given above. See if any of your headlines will make the front page of a newspaper or else do some work on them. Choose the most effective press release headline of them all, and publish your press release.

How to write a press release headline – The Conclusion

Knowing how to write a press release headline is the most important trait that leads to the success of the press release writer. Only compelling and informative headlines entice readers to read press releases. Given that millions of posts including press releases get published on the web every day, drawing and keeping the attention of readers is an unenviable task.

Writing exceptional press release headlines consistently is a difficult task. But if a writer follows the recipe above writing a press release headline, he or she can regularly write excellent press release headlines.

To sum up, a press release headline has to be short, to the point and convey the essence of the press release to the intended audience.

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Jarrod Partridge

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