… But a catchy headline could draw 54%
Just 19% of participants in a Harris Interactive poll read news word-by-word. Many more (34%) skimmed mostly headlines.
How do you catch these skimmers and scanners? Hook them with your headline. A catchy headline tops the list of elements that convince skimmers to read (54%), according to the Harris poll.
So how can you hook readers with a catchy headline?
1. Write about the reader.
Focus on the reader or what the reader can do — not on us and our stuff — as this Silver Anvil Award-winning headline demonstrates:
Blood Cancer Patients and Advocates Visit Capitol Hill to Inspire Continued Support for Be the Match
July 18 Legislative Day event aimed at delivering more cures to patients in need
2. Make it factual and free of hype.
On my desk is a New Yorker cartoon where a CEO is talking to his PR executive. “Here it is, the plain, unvarnished truth,” the CEO says. “Varnish it.”
Skip the varnish. Cut phrases that sound anything like these:
Sets major milestone
In a move that sets the next industry milestone and reinforces its leadership position …
Your news headline should sound journalistic, not like marketing hype.
3. Keep it short.
Keep your news head to eight words max. That’s the number people can understand at a glance, according to research by The American Press Institute.
This effective headline, for instance, tells the story in just six words, plus a 13-word deck:
IRS Introduces New, Paperless Tax Filing
TeleFile allows taxpayers to file by phone — in as little as 10 minutes
At 16 words, this one’s harder to process:
XYZ Company Donates $80,000 to The Nature Conservancy for Shareholders Choosing Paperless Delivery of Annual Report
Hook ’em with a catchy headline.
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy,” writes David Ogilvy, father of advertising. “When you’ve written your headline, you’ve spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”
To get the greatest ROI on your message, hook ’em with a catchy headline.