How To Write Headlines Like A Journalist

Your headline is the first and often the last thing that anyone will read in relation to your press release. If your headline isnít hot, it makes no difference how thrilling or well-written your release is. No one will ever see it because they will have skipped on to the next story headline.


That being the case, it is important to learn how to write headlines like a professional journalist. Here are some of the easiest ways to make your headlines shine.

Grab the attention

Check out the difference between these two headlines:

An amazing new treatment is being used in medicine for some wonderful results

Johns Hopkins docs discover lung cancer cure

The first is far too vague. The second gives a lot more information and captures the attention.

Answers the 6Ws but still intrigues the audience to read on

The 6Ws of journalist are:

The first headline above does not answer any of these. The second answers many of them, either directly, or by implication:

What=lung cancer cure
Where=Johns Hopkins
When-recently, since it is ënewsí
Why=research is always being done about cancer to try to find a cure.
How=the verb discover implies in a lab, during research, and so on

Write tight

All of the above information is conveyed in a 7-word headline. Keep your headlines short, no more than 60 to 80 characters, including spaces.

Use strong verbs

Discover is stronger than find.

Avoid adjectives and adverbs

They are usually found in sales pitches, not press releases. Focus on facts, not fluff.

Surprise and intrigue

Grab their attention and entice them to read the story by intriguing them and getting them curious. ìMicrosoft buys LinkedIn,î is interesting, but ìMicrosoft grabs LinkedIn, to top tech companies once moreî seems to indicate there is more to the story, such as a particular strategy driving Microsoft to buy it.

Use numbers

Numbers grab attention and give an air of fact, not opinion or salesmanship. Numbers can also have power and impact.

Family harmed in shooting spree
3 dead, 2 injured, after family shot by neighbor

Cite statistics

Statistics are even stronger than ordinary numbers

4/5s of osteoporosis sufferers are women
80% with osteoporosis are female

They are essentially the same facts, but 80% has more impact.

Steer clear of technical terms

The headline should be clear enough for even a non-expert to understand.

7 assets miss RV, reported MIA

is military-speak for:
7 soldiers miss rendezvous, reported missing (in action)

Write for your niche audience

If you have done your keyword research, you know what words and phrases will be of most interest to your target audience. Use at least one main keyword in your headline in order to attract the attention of the right journalist and reader.

Golf club manufacturer to expand plant and product line
Callaway announces new line of golf clubs and more new hires

Anyone who knows anything about golf, and golf clubs, will know the brand Callaway.

Use these 10 tips consistently, and you will soon be writing headlines like a pro.

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.

Catch up on the rest of your content marketing news and strategy