Writing headlines: How to hit the headlines
You’ve perfected the content for your brochure, blog, newsletter or media release, now it’s time for writing headlines that stand out and draw your readers into your message.
Your headline should:
- Grab your readers’ attention
- Engage them
- Intrigue them
- Compel them to read on
The power of a headline shouldn’t be underestimated. Use intrigue to lure your readers into your article or blog; a ‘How to…’ to resolve a problem; or a summary to set expectations.
A headline can be used in conjunction with an introduction or an image, and should be tailored accordingly – just as it should for the audience it’s targeting.
It may be short, but a headline is arguably the most difficult and creative part of the writing process. Here are a few tips on writing headlines that are powerful.
"To create impact, your headline could incorporate a notion of time, emotion, humour or urgency."
Know your readers
Who is your audience?
Your answer will determine the style, tone and length of all of your written content – including your headline. Just like the rest of your marketing communications plan, your headline should be tailored to meet the needs of your audience.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business writing section.
Always short and sharp, a headline should reflect the objective of your communications piece, whether the objective is to educate, persuade or inspire.
Your headline should suit the style of the content – it could be quirky, intriguing or motivational. Or you could simply go for the shock factor.
And to create impact, your headline could incorporate a notion of time, emotion, humour or urgency. Here are some examples:
- Ask a question: Does your webpage contain a glaring mistake?
- Solve a problem: Overcome writer’s block in seven easy steps
- Arouse a passion: Help fight poverty now
- Give a reason to read on: Ensure your business reaches its full potential
Your headline could be a link on a business website without accompanying text – your challenge is to stimulate enough curiosity or give a compelling enough reason for the reader to click through.
Or, it could be displayed alongside an image or above an introduction. This allows for more creativity and ambiguity.
How to write a killer headline
Allow your world to inspire you. Look at magazines. Listen to music. Look up some famous sayings.
Identify your keywords and relate them to back to your inspiration. Use a thesaurus.
Brainstorm and write down as many potential headlines as you can. Then play with the words – mix them with your other options or shuffle them around.
Try to find rhyming words or use alliteration. Or convert your keywords into a metaphor or well-known phrase.
Put yourself in your readers’ shoes – what would make you read on or click through?
Give yourself time to review your headline choices – and use the one you keep going back to because it has a great ring.
What techniques do you use for writing headlines that are hard-hitting?