Behind the Headline

If you’re a PR professional, you know that strategic media relations is one of the most well-known aspects of our discipline. What some clients may not know is the process we go through to help garner those news stories, radio interviews, blog mentions and TV segments. Well, it all starts with a headline.

When our clients present us with newsworthy content that should be pitched to news media, one of the very first things we do is visualize the headline for the news release or subject line for a pitch email. With some news, it’s really easy and fun to think of that headline. With other news, it can be a bit more challenging. Whatever that content may be, producing a very strong headline is the key to grabbing the attention of your news contact.

I’m sure many of you have heard this a thousand times. “Make sure you write a good headline, so you get noticed!” That sounds simple, but many times, professionals can get into a rush and don’t spend enough time writing a clear, strong headline.

Lackluster headline:
“Students to run laps as part of fundraising initiative”

Enticing headline/email subject:
“500 students to do the Hokey Pokey while running for a cause”

My hope is that a reporter reading this would think, “What? They are going to do the Hokey Pokey and run at the same time? AND raise money?” Then, get to the point in the body of your email and give them the usual suspects: Who, What, When, Where, Why. Spending just a little more time on your headline could result in some great coverage for your client. And, we love when that happens!

On a funny note, here are some pretty awful headline fails. Does anyone remember “Missippi’s literacy program…?”