June 25, 2017

Make sure every picture tells a story

How to write compelling captions

Too often, editors crank out captions (aka cutlines) in the 15 minutes before happy hour on a Friday night.

How to write compelling captions

Reach ’em where their eyes are Captions can be workhorses of communications — but only if you use them and use them well. Image by Jay Wennington

Their loss.

“No task involved in producing a newspaper has a greater disparity between its importance to the reader and its attention from most newsrooms than writing cutlines,” writes Steve Buttry, American Press Institute’s director of tailored programs.

“Too often, they are the first thing the reader reads (sometimes even before the headlines) and the last thing the newsroom slaps together.”

Handled well, captions can be workhorses of communication. That’s because:

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“[Captions] can be to stories what trailers are to movies — intriguing, compelling previews.”
— Monica L. Moses, deputy managing editor/visuals, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Lift Ideas Off the Page

How are you spending 80 cents of your communication dollar?

Once you’ve written your headline, David Ogilvy famously said, you’ve spent 80 cents of your advertising dollar.

Lift Ideas Off the Page

A buck well spent Display copy nets the biggest ROI of your writing time. Why not put your money where their eyes are?

That’s the value of display copy. Display copy — headlines, captions and callouts, for instance — gets the biggest ROI of all the copy we write.

That’s why I’m often amazed that the same folks who spend hours polishing the analogy in the seventh paragraph of their message toss off a headline in the 17 seconds before happy hour on a Friday afternoon. Most of your readers will never read the seventh paragraph. But many more will read your display copy.

So why not put your messages where your readers really are: in the display copy?

At Catch Your Readers — our two-day writing master class on June 19-20 in Boston, and on Oct. 16-17 in Dallas — you’ll learn how to use your display copy to pull readers into your message, make your piece more inviting and even communicate to flippers and skimmers.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Reach “readers” who spend only two minutes — or even just 10 seconds — with your piece.
  • Avoid dropping the piece of display copy that 95% of people read — but that many communicators forget.
  • Run a simple test on your message to ensure that even folks who will not read your message no matter how well you write it still get your key ideas.
  • Make your copy 47% more usable by adding a few simple elements.
  • Pass the Palm Test to make your message look easier to read. Because if it looks easier to read, more people will read it.

This is the only writing workshop we have planned in Boston in 2017. Don’t miss out on your chance to master writing in Boston! Register now.

“Fantastic. Among the most applicable, relevant, and engaging workshops I’ve ever attended.”
– Angela Kates, chief of staff, Virginia Tech.

Polish your skills at these Master Classes

Learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller, Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more

Register for Catch Your Reader: Ann Wylie's persuasive writing workshop in Las Vegas on March 22-23, 2017
Register for Cut Through the Clutter - Ann Wylie's Tight Writing workshop in Washington, D.C. on April 6-7, 2017
Register for Not Your Father's News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing workshop in Chicago on May 18-19, 2017
Register for Catch Your Reader: Ann Wylie's persuasive writing workshop in Boston on June 19-20, 2017
Register for Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie's online-writing workshop in Portland on July 27-28, 2017
Register for Cut Through the Clutter - Ann Wylie's tight-writing workshop in San Francisco on Aug, 17-18, 2017
Register for Master the Art of the Storyteller in New York: Ann Wylie's creative-writing workshop in New York on Sept. 25-26, 2017
Register for Catch Your Readers in Dallas: Ann Wylie's persuasive writing workshop in Dallas on Oct. 16-17
Register for Not Your Father's News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017
Register for Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie's online-writing workshop in Miami on Dec. 11-12, 2017

Rather bring Ann in to train your whole team?

Catch Ann on the road

Save when you book a workshop while I’m in your neighborhood

Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in:

  • Boston: June 19-20
  • Chicago: May 18-19
  • Dallas: Oct. 16-17
  • Kansas City: Nov. 16-17
  • Las Vegas: March 22-23
  • Miami: Dec. 11-12
  • New York: Sept. 25-26
  • Northbrook, Illinois: June 14
  • Portland: July 27-28
  • San Francisco: Aug. 17-18
  • Washington, D.C.: April 6-7

Keep up with my calendar.