3 musts for energizing your subject lines

If one glance at your email starts the recipient snoozing—or, worse, deleting—then you’re probably committing one of these common blunders. Trade those snores for clicks.

If writing press release headlines were easy, everyone would do it.

It takes effort to get a reader’s attention, pique their curiosity and get them to click your headline to read your press release.

Rather than tell you how to write a press release headline, in this post I want to tell you how not to do it. I’ve made up these examples (didn’t want to embarrass anyone by pointing out their company’s misstep) to fit some bad headline categories I’ve seen.

1. The “Why should I give a darn” headline

If you read many blog posts about marketing, you’ve come across the phrase, “What’s in it for me?” Essentially, the adage goes: Your customers want to know how doing something (clicking, reading, buying) will benefit them.

The same goes for your press release headline. You’ve got to capture people’s attention with it and show them there’s a reason to click it to read more.

What not to write:

Smith Incorporated Receives $1 Billion in First Round Funding

What’s wrong with it:

It’s great that this made-up company secured funding, but what does the average person care? What will the company do with the money that will help customers?

A better way to write it:

$1 Billion Funding Round Will Help Smith Inc. Fund More Small Businesses

Download this free white paper to discover 10 ways to improve your writing today.

2. The lonnnnngggg, drawn-out headline

I’ve seen a lot of brands try to fit their entire news into the headline. Wrong. That’s what the body of the press release should do.

What not to write:

Gurken Industries Launches New Product Line of Baby Diapers Designed with Patent-Pending Eco-Friendly Drying Material

What’s wrong with it:

Don’t give away too much away the headline, or people won’t have a reason to read the release itself. Also, keep in mind that Google displays only the first 50-60 characters of your headline, so if it’s longer, it’ll get cut off.

A better way to write it:

Gurken Industries Launches Eco-Friendly Diaper Line

3. The vague headline

We want details. We want to know statistics, numbers and more in your headline, so we’ll click it to find out the rest of the story. Many businesses discount the importance of details.

What not to write:

Flell Inc. Launches Industry Forum

What’s wrong with it:

What industry? If I’ve never heard of Flell, I’m not clicking on that headline. What’s the purpose of the forum? Again, why should I care?

A better way to write it:

Flell Launches Acupuncture Practitioners’ Forum to Foster Communication

In each of the above examples, you can see how the suggested headline improved it. Read your headlines before publishing them, and ask yourself:

  • Is there a benefit for the reader to click to read more?
  • Am I being specific and descriptive enough without making the headline too long?

A little forethought on drafting the best headline possible will pay off in clicks and reads.

Susan Payton is president of Egg Marketing & Communications, which specializes in content writing and social media management. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing. A version of this article originally ran on the Cision blog.

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