How to Write Headlines to Attract Journalists?

how to write headlines

How to Write Headlines to Attract Journalists?

Americans have short attention spans and want to be wowed quickly. Journalists have the additional issues of being under deadlines and being inundated with press releases, pitched articles and social media. They often have to decide to do a story within a few minutes. Therefore, it is imperative that you capture their attention right away with the right headline. Try these tricks on how to write headlines.

When you are trying to figure out why your press release is not getting media attention, you should consider that the headline might be at fault. Like every other American, editors have short attention spans. If you don’t interest them in five seconds, they will move to another more interesting article idea. If you want to capture their attention, you need to write killer headlines. Here are some tips to make your headline attractive. Read this article.


1. Be Careful With Numbers

Journalists love statistics and lists, but when you write your press release, be careful how you use those statistics and numbers. Most likely, editors will reject a release that says “10 Things to Change About Yourself.” However, they might pick up a press release like this: “People Can Change in 10 Ways, Expert Says.” The topic is the same, but the way the public relations representative listed it will make all the difference. Be clear with statistics. For example, “Companies Reuse 90 Percent of Plastic Bottles.” Finally, when writing numbers, make sure you use Associated Press Style even in headlines. It would be “Company Hires Nine New Employees,” not “Company Hires 9 New Employees.” If you use the wrong format, the press release would be rejected.

2. Use Verbs

Many digital marketing companies will recommend using something like “10 Things to Change About Yourself” because they are good for search engine optimization. However, press releases are meant to capture the attention of the journalists not increase SEO. Therefore, you need to make the headline powerful. To do that, you need to use verbs. Suppose you have a new health product that will revolutionize the industry and you want to attract trade journalists. You might write “New Product Lowers Cholesterol Without Medications.” Every headline is expected to have a subject and a verb. The better word choice, the more powerful and attractive your headline and story idea becomes.

3. Connect to Holidays

Linking your headline to a holiday or world event could propel an unlikely story to the business page or segment. For example, December is a great month for a list of the top 10 items in an industry for the year, “Critics Expound on Top 10 Movies for 2018” or “Experts Pinpoint Top 10 Products of 2018 to Lower Cholesterol.” It is easy to create a top 10 list for December.

Journalists love to use these during the week between Christmas and New Year’s when few story ideas are available. However, connecting your release to any holiday works. For Veterans Day, you might say, “Company Thanks Veterans With Special Promotion” or “Local Dentists Buy Back Halloween Candy to Give to Troops.” In July, you could use Independence Day as the hook. Other special days will work to attract journalists too, such as Grandparents Day, National Pancake Day, Love Your Pets Day, etc. You can usually find out about these special days by doing a search on Google.

4. How to Write Headlines While Keeping It Short

Unlike search engines that prefer long strings of words to find the ones you seek, journalists want short headlines. You should write them with as few words as possible without losing the meaning of the press release. If you need to explain more, use subheads, which are generally longer than headlines. “Companies Rethink Strategies in Current Real Estate Market” would be the headline followed by “Real Estate Agents Are Getting Aggressive in Marketing Homes Due to Downturn” as the subhead. This gives more explanation about the news story. It helps journalists decide to use a story if they are unsure.


If you are unsure whether you have a killer headline, you can ask an expert. You can use a Faselis Certified PR Editor to help you write your press release and use Faselis targeting it to the right trade journalist.

by Louise Harris


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