Using Power Words In Headlines

When it comes to writing great headlines for your press releases, power words are one of the best ways to make the most of the limited space you have in order to:

  • Convey information
  • Evoke emotion
  • Hook the reader
  • Tell a story
  • Answer the readers question, “What’s in it for me if read this story?”
  • Offer a promise of what they will discover if they click to read more


These 6 elements might seem like a lot for one humble headline to accomplish, but it can be done if you right tightly and use power words.

Let’s look at some examples of power words and how they can accomplish all of these goals when used in headlines.

Women hit the glass ceiling early in businesses, study says

The word hit is dramatic. Glass ceiling is a common phrase which refers to an unofficially acknowledged or invisible barrier to advancement in a person’s profession.  In this case, it indicates a lack of opportunities for women to get promoted due to their gender.

The headline is intriguing because it is a new study about how women don’t get promoted in businesses, and how it happens early on in a woman’s career. This would evoke emotion in many women readers, who would therefore be ‘hooked’ into reading on. It may not be the most exciting headline in the world, but it does cover all 6 elements in a brief but clear way.

Now let’s compare several headlines related to the same story to see how words have power and convey meaning.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Study Shows Concussion Diagnoses Spiked in the US from 2010 – Press release

This is an interesting headline thanks to the word spiked. It also gives information about what the story is about, concussion diagnoses, and the year/s affected, from 2010 onwards. It gives us a general idea, but not the full details. Compare it to:

Concussion diagnoses for Illinois kids up 83% – Chicago Tribune

From this headline we learn the concussions were in children who live in the state of Illinois, and 83% gives a hard fact that would probably be shocking to most parents.

The sub-head, “The percentage of Illinois children diagnosed with concussions soared 83% between 2010 and 2015, according to data from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois,” uses the power word soared, and the thumbnail image that accompanies this story is of a football player in a helmet, hinting at what might be the reason for this increase.

Study: Reported youth concussions surged by over 70% in 5 years -Fox News

This headline has the power word surged and the data of 70%. Numbers are always powerful in headlines because they seem to indicate truth and accuracy. The statistic of 70% seems to represent all youth, not just ones in Illinois. It also gives a time frame for the increase, from 2010 to 2015. The number of years is another number that creates impact in the headline, evokes emotion, concern, interest and so on.

Power words can make all the difference between your press release getting read, or passed over, so practice using them and see how great your headlines can be.

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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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