Maybe it goes without saying when you work in public relations that you become a news junkie. One of my college graduation gifts was a book with the best headline stories from The New York Times. Back in the day, someone knew I thought that would be pretty cool. In fact, I passed that book on several years later to an intern who was, to say the least, thrilled. I actually was surprised he loved it so much. I’d say even more than I did.
What is it about headlines that pack so much emotion for us? Yet we scan and discard probably hundreds, if not more, in a typical social media day, making split second decisions on whether it has any relevance.
Of course, relevance means it is most likely to apply to or impact my (or your) life in some way. Or perhaps it is pure emotional response (have to give a shout out to UK headline writers on that one – cheeky!). Either way, it’s not easy to write the perfect headline. Despite chastising from myself and countless others when spelling errors aren’t caught, I can only imagine the challenges of the headline writing job for those in the News business. I mean, it’s not only a new world problem. Even when newspapers were the primary daily news source, there still was only so much room (or type characters) allowed.
In PR we run into the headline challenge, too. Like how to make the headline on a news release (or a post) enticing enough for the journalist to give it a second look, despite all the internal requirements companies often have about what ‘must’ be in there or the expected tone. It was always a good day for me when I fought for a creative headline on a news release – and then proved it got better pick-up. [grin]
Of course, with today’s 140 character tweets, which are like headlines on weight loss plans I suppose, (or steroids depending on your perception of length) many more people, including journos, have caught on to how to put just the right words together. After all, a great tweet, just like a great headline is like that book cover that draws you in. I mean, assuming you happen to be looking without a specific title in mind when browsing your online or local bookstore or library, what made you stop on any particular book? Description, yes. Cover art, probably. But most likely, the headline (title). I mean something jumped out and grabbed your attention, right?
So, I was thinking about this in relation to social responsibility in business. If you aren’t familiar with the CSR movement, let me just say it is equal parts eco/green and etho/engagement. I’m sure I am not the best headline writer in the world, but I thought I would imagine the big ones we might someday see in CSR, or not. Are they so hard to believe that we couldn’t make it happen? Why? So here’s your challenge. Add to the list! Or tell me why these won’t see the light of day.
10. New Alternative Fuel Discovered by Company’s Venture with STEM
9. Hugging the Corporate Tree Today Took Root
8. After the GRI: 95% of All Companies Show Profitability Rises
7. XYZ Company Plants Park Program to Teach the World to Grow
6. Grandchildren Push Area CEOs to Plug into Electric Vehicles
5. A Million Mid-sized Companies March for Equal Pay for Women
4. Manager Evaluations Tied to Team Skills-based Volunteerism Efforts
3. Supply Chain Vendors Join XYZ Company to Expand Alternative Packaging
2. Entire Fortune 500 Commits to Fund Educational Paradigm Shift
1. Corporate Boards Hammer Out Plan to Shatter Glass Ceiling
- 12 Most Snappy Headline Writing Tips For Bloggers (soulati.com)
- Creating Magic Through Shared Value (triplepundit.com)
- Five Tips for Writing Great Online News Headlines (business2community.com)
- Small businesses can do good too (and it neednt cost the Earth) (hiscox.co.uk)
- 5 Headline Formulas That Will Never Go Out of Style (womenentrepreneursecrets.blogspot.com)