Have you ever written something, whether it be a news release, an article, blog, book, or any written media, and then wondered “Ok, now what in the world do I call it?”
This happened to me today. I was writing a news release for a client of mine, and when I finished I had no idea what the headline should be. In an attempt to find some kind of creative assistance, I took to the internet to find some headline writing tips for the topic I was working on. As expected, my search turned up several results, all of which contradicted each other.
Everyone has their own way of doing things. Everyone has opinions on how to write “THE PERFECT HEADLINE,” everyone has different opinions on what is “catchy,” and everyone wants you to believe they are the industry expert about it. However; what many of these sources fail to mention, is that every industry is different and that there is no “PERFECT HEADLINE” formula. It is just a myth.
Certain situations call for different headlines. Writing about animals in need will require a completely different approach than writing about accounting. Writing about technology in videogames is different from writing about technology in computers.
So with that said, I’ve put together a brief list of somethings to think about that might help you in your headline and tilting adventures (based off my own experiences):
- Consider the topic!
Is it happy? Is it sad? Is it about people or objects? These things matter in how you approach your headlines.
- Consider the audience!
Does the market respond well to emotional appeals? Are they jaded to “typical” headlines? What would make ME want to read this?
- The headline sets tone of the article!
This is a given, but it doesn’t help to be reminded of it every once in a while. This is the first thing the audience will read before reading the piece you have put together. Make sure it fits!
- Is it catchy?
As I mentioned, there is NO definitive form of “catchy-ness”. Go with your instincts on this. Do you think it would appeal to your audience. Try copy testing it with some friends if you are unsure.
- Does it fit the article?
This should also be obvious, but you would be surprised at how many times “wrong” headlines pop-up on articles. Sure, a completely unrelated and catchy headline might gain attention, but will it be the right kind of attention? How many times have you read an article and then thought, “Wow…that was not at all what I thought it was going to be, why did I read that?”
Sometimes you might do this and not even realize it. To avoid making this mistake, try reading the article as if you were an audience member and see if it makes sense.
- Look at other headlines in the industry!
Use these to see what appeals to your audience.
The main thing to remember is to, go with your instincts. Sure, using other sources can be helpful, and even provide valuable insight, but remember, the people who wrote those are just people too.