You might pore over a press release about the launch of your company’s latest product or service. The message may get across, but what about details like the title? The truth is you should put just as much time into the title as you would in determining the body of the release.
It’s possible for those in the media to receive hundreds of press releases each day. Needless to say, there’s not much time to dive into each one. Instead, they typically peruse headlines to determine which ones seem interesting enough to read fully. Will yours make the cut? In short, your title will make or break your chance to grab their attention. Follow these tips to craft effective press release titles.
• Be clear vs. clever—Save “clever” for advertising copy. Editors just want the facts, not a punchy version of it. Therefore, your title should capture what’s covered in the body of your press release. As a rule, focus on the who, what, when, where, why and how questions to get your point across.
• Be accurate—Again, leave clever to advertising. You will put yourself at a disadvantage if your title is somehow misleading. Good intentions can cause you to lose credibility and potentially weaken or sever media relationships you’ve worked hard to establish.
• Ditch the sales pitch—A press release should be informative and/or entertaining. What it is not is an advertisement for your products and services. You can be interesting while still being factual and straightforward.
• Keep it short—A good rule of thumb is if you can’t express what you need in 10 words (or 100-150 characters) or fewer, you might need to reconsider if you really understand what you’re promoting. Members of the media are pressed for time and will only dedicate a few seconds to whatever is put in front of them. Practice creating concise titles that get your point across. You might even want to try several different versions of your headline to make sure you have a good handle on it.
• Include keywords—Alas, don’t forget about optimizing your press release. It’s true search engines tend to favor press releases. That means high rankings for targeted keywords. Strive to get the main keyword(s) in the title.
• Use numbers— List posts are popular due to their visual nature. Incorporating this into your title can serve as teaser. In today’s blog dominated world, people demand easy-to-scan content. An example: “5 reasons you should love XYZ product.”
• Proof, proof, proof! —Don’t be “that company” who sends out press releases with typos or other errors in the title. You might want to consider re-visiting it the next day or even having a peer review it. It’s better to be overly cautious than sorry—and humiliated.
Now that you have the elements of a solid press title down, concern yourself with the writing process. Write the body of the release first; then proceed to writing the title. Why? A title serves as a sort of promise to the reader about what he or she should expect. Writing it last provides you with the benefit of ensuring you followed through with the promise you made in the title.