A surprisingly simple way to get people to read what you’ve written

Start with a great headline – it really is as simple as that. If you’ve read this far, you’ll have proven the point!http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-overworked-writers-block-depressed-exhausted-businessman-his-desk-pile-work-concept-frustration-stress-image36524585

Sharp and snappy titles are always going to encourage readers to continue reading, exactly what you want when you’ve spent time carefully crafting the content of your press release, blog or article. Conversely, a poor headline can render your writing invisible.

So if you’d like to grab your readers’ attention from the off, the single most important thing you can do is get your title right. And the key to that is to make explicit what the benefit of reading will be to the reader.

What’s the advantage?

Give your readers a compelling reason to continue reading and they will, so choosing something benefit-led makes sense. Does your title pique the curiosity to continue? Does it challenge your reader? Does it suggest the possibility of telling them something they don’t already know, of making their jobs easier or their lives happier?

If you think your title could do with some work, you might find it helpful to apply the ‘4 U’ rule by asking yourself

  • Is my title unique? (Why is this different?)
  • Is it urgent? (Why should it matter to the reader right now?)
  • Is it useful? (How will this benefit the reader?)
  • Is it unambiguous? (What can the reader learn from the headline?)

Top five titles

For the times when you are really stuck, here are five tried and tested ideas to get your title on the right track.

1.     Tease with insider information

No-one can resist the lure of finding out things few people know. Try ‘The secrets to xxx’, ‘What everyone should know about xxx’, or ‘Little known ways to xxx’

 2.     Pose a provocative question or scenario

Is your baby racist? What’s stopping you being happy? Imagine making children illiterate. All these are suggestive enough to make you want to read on.

3.     Use alliteration

A technique often found in newspaper headlines, adding alliteration can really add verve and punch to a title eg ‘Pasties, petrol and the politics of panic’ or ‘Hope held hostage’

 4.     Play on words

Use common expressions, book titles or well-known lyrics but add a relevant twist eg ‘Building a brave new library’, ‘How do you solve a problem like Korea?’ or ‘On a whinge and a prayer.’

5.     List headlines

This makes a specific promise of what’s in store for the reader eg Six mistakes you should never make, Five signs that can’t be ignored, A simple way to get people to read what you’ve written!

 

 

 

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  • About the Author

    After more than 10 years working in PR and media planning, providing clients with great PR and delivering tangible results still brings a smile to my face! Before joining CLPR, I worked across a variety of sectors including lifestyle and finance, and my wider experience in marketing means I understand just how PR fits into the mix. Outside of work, I play with my children, read obsessively, talk myself out of going to the gym and cook huge quantities of food for friends.

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