6 tips for writing a great press release headline

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You’ll not always have a regular flow of newsworthy stories to use in your PR efforts.  So when one with potential emerges, it’s important to make the most of it; and its success can come down to the quality of the press release.  Write it badly and it may go unnoticed.  Write it well and it will have a much better chance of being picked up and published.

And key element of a strong press release is a great headline.

Here are six tips to make sure your press release headlines are effective as possible:

Single most important fact

Don’t try to cram more than one fact in your headline.  Like a good advert, a press release headline should focus on delivering a single key message in a way that will grab the readers’ attention.  This can be easier said than done – especially with pressure from colleagues who are keen to get a number of messages across if it’s their story.  But it’s a discipline that must be stuck to avoid confusion and detraction from the core message.

If there is more than one strong angle that could be used, there are probably grounds to break issue two releases – for example, if you’re release covers the launch of a new range of household insurance products with a more flexible rating structure.

Focus on the benefit

Think about the value of the story to your target audience and use the headline to convey that – especially when it’s a product or service communication.   Think “what’s in it for them” – and focus on that within the press release headline.

Size matters

Recipients of your release will want to decide quickly whether or not it’s of relevance – so make it succinct.  It’s the first part of your story they’ll see and a story that’s really important to you might not see the light of day if it doesn’t engage them.

Use sub-heads to add more detail

If it’s difficult to convey the essence of the story within a succinct headline, use a sub-head.  This can support the main headline with additional information to aid understanding and add more detail.  Sub-heads can be a little longer and often describe a less important angle than the main headline.

Don’t self-promote

The media want news, not adverts. So make sure your headline – and the release – avoids this at all costs.  A key consideration is whether or not to mention your company’s name.  If the brand is strong in your market, use it in the headline as this will immediately grab an editor’s attention.  If not, the story angle itself may be what sells it most effectively.

Add a key statistic

The media loves useful statistics.  They can bring a story to life and substantiate claims.  So if your release is about a subject with numeric facts – such as a research, company performance etc. – make sure you put a key statistic in the headline.