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