Press Release Optimization: How to write an effective headline

by Mario Lozano on 9/27/2006

in Press Release Optimization

Summary:
The headline of your news release should make it findable on the search engines and grab the reader’s attention.

The headline of a news release is the single most important aspect of your copy. It needs to be written for both search engines and consumers.

The fact that Google News, Yahoo News, Ask.com News and Topix.net, among others, are quickly becoming the gateway to how consumers discover the latest news–further increases the importance of using the right keywords. So your first objective is to determine the vocabulary used by your prospective customer.

Words Make You Findable

When crafting a news release, write it to be found. Use the keywords that match your prospective customer’s search queries. Some of your customers will type a search query that accurately describes your product or service, while others may type a string of words that describes the problem your product could solve for them. Using the right vocabulary will bring you closer to your target audience.

Use any of the following three tools during your keyword discovery process:

  • Overture Keyword Selector Tool – Shows a count of the number of searches done for a keyword/keyword phrase(s) for the previous month.
  • Google AdWords Keyword Tool – Generates keyword variations based on your own keyword(s) and reports their Google Statistics, including search performance and seasonal trends.
  • Wordtracker – Find keywords to drive more traffic to your website(s). Use the free trial to generate your report. Just click the link and provide your name and email address.


Grab People’s Attention

David Ogilvy, the renowned “Father of Advertising” said: “More than half the battle is write headlines which grab people’s attention and force them to read the copy.” Ogilvy was talking about writing copy that appeals to your customer’s desires.

The first thing your customer should know when reading your headline is:

“What’s in it for me?”

You must let them know, right from the start, what’s in it for them. Often, your headline is the first, and only, thing they read. The headline must immediately grab the their attention otherwise your news release is dead.


Additional Guidelines for Writing Headlines

  • Brand your news – plug your company, service or product name in your headline. Remember, you want your news release to make you findable.
  • Use active voice and strong pretense words such as: announces, introduces, interviews, launches, opens, etc.
  • Capitalize the first word in the headline as well as all proper nouns.
  • Avoid jargon and corporate speak.
  • One-word headlines are unacceptable.
  • SEO: limit your headline to more than 65 characters.
  • Do not use all caps or exclamation points.
  • Use periods only for abbreviations. Do not add a period at the end of your headline. Use single quotes where you would use double quotes in copy.
  • “For Immediate Release” should not be included in your headline or body. This offline practice is no longer necessary when distributing your news online.

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