In today’s clickbait style of journalism, strong headlines are without a doubt the most important element of an article. At the hands of troll media, it’s sad to see authentic journalism’s irrelevance reach the likes of yesterday’s newspaper, but there is something to be learned from The Drudge Report, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Salon and the like. For the record, authentic journalism still exists, just not as much as in the good ol’ days.
Former Gawker editor, Neetzan Zimmerman says, “If a person is not sharing a news story, it is not news. The most important thing is having a good headline. It takes 15-minutes to write a good headline, it takes maybe five minutes to write the rest of the piece.”
Headlines have always been important; they’ve just been neglected – sometimes not even used. Strong headlines should be included in everything you you want to get read! Headlines should be added to cover letters that will stop HR directors in their tracks. They should be on every website page, “Welcome to our website…” is not a strong headline. Direct mail pieces, e-blasts and newsletters should all have compelling headlines.
Nothing is more important in a press release than a well-written headline. Once the headline is sorted out… the rest of the article will flow like the Rio Grande. Journalists are bombarded with press releases all day – be different, be better. Consumers are bombarded by ads, e-blasts and junk mail all day – be different, be better.
Love or hate… there’s something to be learned from the clickbait gurus, before you write your headline, read some of theirs for inspiration. “This”, “you”, “what”, “that”, “how” and “your” are effective headline words – “free” is in the hall of fame. Get creative, include reader benefits, have fun and include a headline as often as possible.