5 Tips To Write Headlines That Grab Attention

There are a number of ways to write headlines that grab attention. Using a variety of them and tracking and testing your results can help you write better headlines that will lead to increased media coverage.


Here are 5 top tips for writing headlines that will make readers say wow, not meh.

  1. Tell them why they should care

Everyone is busy these days, so whenever they choose items to read, they will scan the headlines with one main question in mind: “What’s in it for me?”  Journalists will scan press release headlines with a second question in mind: “What’s in it for my readers?”

The following examples are of general interest to many readers.

  • Elon Musk announces Mars colonization project
  • Social networks drive tens of thousands of voter registrations

Then there are headlines that might be of broad interest, but also particular interest to journalists and bloggers who cover particular niche topics:

  • Ford Fights Back Against Trump Debate Claims -politics
  • Europe can finally buy Samsung’s Note 7 on October 28 –mobile phones
  • Zika-origin, history and current global spread -health
  1. Use numbers

Numbers tell a story. They also lend an extra air of truth to the headline.  Look at these examples:

  • Thailand investigates 4 cases of suspected Zika
  • Vast majority of world – 6.76 billion people – living with excessive air pollution – UN report.

This is a very specific number, and seems to demonstrate both good research and certain amount of shock value given that there are around 7 billion people on Earth.

  • It’s a boy! First baby born with DNA from 3 parents

This is intriguing-how can an infant have 3 parents?

  • US likely to fall short of emissions goal by 85%

This is a startling title-how could they fall so far short of the goal and what are the implications of this?

  1. Use top and best

Readers want to learn about things that work and will make their lives better, easier and so on. If we view all press release headlines as a promise, we would expect to find useful tips in these types of releases:

  • 10 Top Trends in Holiday Decorations 2016
  • 5 Best Costume Ideas for Halloween 2016
  • 7 Bestselling Indoor Bike Stands 2016

These headlines promise a short, easy to read article that might teach the reader at least a couple of things they don’t know.

  1. Use active verbs
  • Workers at Ford plant in Michigan laid off
  • Ford axes 2,500 workers in Detroit

Laid off is passive. Axed is active. It is also a stronger verb than lay off. Axe, cut, slash, would all be other ways to describe what happened. Downsizing would be another verb that means the same as lay off, but it is also dull and does not evoke emotions compared with the others.

  1. Use strong verbs

Compare: The Store Was Robbed

With: Robber Snatches $1k From Brooklyn Garage

The verb is active-snatched, not passive, was robbed. The choice of verb also creates interest and drama. Snatch, grab, nab, all sound more active than rob. As we saw in the example above, certain verb choices can also evoke strong emotions.

Watch word choice, headline wording and verbs, and you should soon be able to write press release headlines like a pro.

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Anthony Santiago is Director of Marketing at Newswire. With over a decade of experience in PR, he helps ensure that clients understand the value of brand messaging and reach.

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