Boring, say-nothing headlines fill corporate pubs

A bad headline can ruin the impression your publication makes quicker than anything.

For example, this headline appears in a very good magazine put out by a government agency:

Study shows seniors benefit from exercise

Put this one in the “Duh!” category.

Furthermore, the headline illustrates the cardinal sin of the headline writer: It doesn’t accurately capture the main point of the story. The eye-catching thesis of this well-written story is that oldsters benefit from exercise 15 times more than twenty-somethings in the area of “exercise efficiency.” Corollary idea: Seniors can benefit greatly even from low levels of exercise.

Not one of these ideas gets into the headline. It’s boring, and tells us what nobody will dispute anyway.

Here’s a winner:

Hearings comply with Policy Act requirements

Wow! Thank heavens this beauty was on the front page of the newsletter. This shows what happens when Compliance and Legal team up to give the editor their views on what makes a good headline.

Never mind that the main idea of the story not only contradicts its headline, but gets buried in the fourth paragraph. The story reveals that this energy company went way beyond what it was legally required to do by holding hearings it didn’t have to hold in order to show its commitment to saving energy.

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