How to Optimize Your Headline for The Media

Let’s talk about something that people often don’t talk about, and that is how to game your headline so that people, including media representatives, click on it. Now by “game”, we don’t mean clickbait. Your headline still must be relevant to the content that your article or post contains. However, there are most certainly headlines that people ignore and headlines that people can’t seem to ignore.


When you’re talking about creating media attention, often the key is to “go viral” on social media. Think about the local news and radio shows that you watch and listen to. Every single day they cover a number of businesses and personal interest stories that have gone viral on social media. This is because the media gets a majority of their stories from social media. You’ll even notice this trend on national news. Every industry publication, social media influencer, authority blogger, and media outlet looks to social media for story ideas.

If you optimize your headline for social media, you’re optimizing it for media coverage.

So, then the question is, what causes people to click on a social media headline? Let’s look at some of the best tips, tactics, and rules of clickable headlines.

#1 Conversational – Conversational headlines contain the words “you” or “I,” and they’re written in language that your audience uses. They’re written as if you’re speaking to your reader.

#2 Numbers – People like to click on headlines with numbers. For example, “10 Ways to…” or “Learn why 17% of homeowners are on the edge of…”

#3 Word Groupings – You probably already know the popularity of word groupings like “how to” or “the best.” But did you know that “this is” and other word groupings are also highly popular? For example, “This Incident is why you’re no longer safe in a car wash.” Three-word phrases like “most of the” or “much of the” also have high click rates.

#4 Trending Topics – There are undoubtedly topics that trend over time. Just hop online and look at what everyone is talking about. You can often leverage trending topics into your headline. Look to seasons, holidays, current events, current controversies, and common annual trends like “resolutions” around New Year’s and “beach” in the spring and early summer.

#5 Track Your Efforts – It’s not only a good idea, it’s practically essential, to test and track a variety of headlines for the same content. Learn what your audience responds to. It’s not uncommon for some major media outlets like Buzzfeed or Upworthy to test 25-50 different headlines to see what generates the most clicks.

You don’t have to test that many, but at least consider testing two headlines. Over time you’ll learn what gets the most attention for you online, and you can leverage that into media coverage and attention for your brand and business.

Call us today to speak to one of our PR specialists: 1-800-713-7278

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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