How to hook readers with killer headlines and grabby leads

Ragan.com publisher Mark Ragan shares the secrets of dynamic writing culled from his 15 years of reporting experience.

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but that got your attention, right? That’s what headlines and leads in corporate publications ought to do, Ragan Communications CEO Mark Ragan told an audience in his Tuesday keynote remarks at the Corporate Communicators Conference in Chicago.

Headlines and leads ought to be examples of what Ragan called “refrigerator journalism,” writing that says something so valuable so concisely that someone would be compelled to cut it out and stick it on his or her refrigerator.

His first tip to make that happen? Be proud of your work. “I have never seen a writer, in all of my professional career, who hated what they were writing, and yet it was good.”

Any topic can be fascinating and engrossing, Ragan said. With the right headline and lead, you can prove it to your readers.

Writing great headlines

“The headlines of a story—I want you to think of them as speed bumps for the eye,” Ragan said. “If you can’t write a great headline, then all is lost.”

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