As a communications pro, writing is one of our core functions. It’s essential to our jobs and value and something we should constantly strive to improve. In today’s world of social media and blogging, one of the most important skills to master, or try to, is the art of the headline. One of the most insightful things I’ve learned about copy writing is that your headline is the beginning of what should be a continuously slippery slide. Each word should push the reader further and further down the slide until they’ve finished your content. Here are 5 tips to help you make your headlines work for you.
We see hundreds, if not thousands of headlines a day but only engage with a handful. Creativity helps separate your headline from all of the rest. The NYP, while distasteful with some, is masterful at penning creative headlines that suck you right it.
Intrigue Your Readers
Think of yourself as a fisherman. You want to give just enough bait for the fish but don’t want to reveal what’s above the surface because they won’t bite. Here’s an example of an intriguing headline:
Create a Sense of Urgency
Your headline should make the reader think that if they don’t read your article or post then they will be missing out on something important. Here’s an example of a headline that provides urgency: “10 Immediate Tips to Social Media Success That Every Marketer Must Know.”Words like “immediate” , “must”, “success” make the reader think that if they don’t read further they are missing out on a chance to get better at their craft.
Trigger a Strong Emotion
I saw a great blog post headline today from Guy Kawasaki: “Unbelievable test pilot’s account of an SR-71 disintegrating at 78,000 feet.” I have no specific interest in aviation and have no idea what an SR-71 is, but I clicked on the headline because the emotion that was elicited – the fear of crashing in a plane – was so strong that I had no other choice. Appeal to the emotion of your readers and you’ll be on your way to success.
Follow the 50/50 Rule
There is a rule in copy writing that you should spend half the time it takes to write your copy on the headline itself. Sounds crazy, but the more I write the more I see how important this is. We are bombarded by headlines 24/7, our job is to create ones that get our material read. If you don’t obsess over your headline you wont get read and might as well not waste your time penning that awesome blog post.
What are your tips for writing great headlines? What are some good one’s that you’ve seen recently?