How to write headlines that repel readers

There’s an art to crafting a mundane headline, but think of the rewards: Being ignored, getting your pitch immediately deleted, maybe even permanent relegation to the elite Blocked Senders List!

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Hey, you! Yes, you—the internal communications writer with that sullen look on your face because the guys in the business don’t respect your expertise. Were these headlines yours?

Enabling talent

(Groans. Rolls eyes. Flops tongue out and makes wrist-slashing motion in attempt to capture the suicidal effects of intense boredom.)

Well, at least you got a reaction out of me. Which is more than can be said of those poor saps you’re employed to “engage” with crap like this.

What were you thinking when you wrote them? Were you thinking when you wrote them?

Did you actually write them? Or did you just recycle them from last month’s edition of Bulletin from the Blokes Who Pay Your Wages? Or maybe you pushed a selection of the corporate lexicon’s greatest hits into the internal communications sausage-making machine and set the button to “bland”?

The setting that takes your firm’s most overused verbs (enable, deliver, commit etc) and puts -ing at the end of them.

Yes, notice that ubiquitous -ing form. Known by those with a more expensive education than mine as a gerund. Known by me as a verb behaving like a noun. Known by you as a doing word pretending to be a person-place-or-thing word.

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