Press releases are an essential tool for getting positive attention from the media. They enable brands to share their stories and initiatives with the press, whether about a new product release, an upcoming event, or big news that excites relevant stakeholders.
To capture the attention of busy journalists and get media coverage, you need to create clever headlines that entice them to read more about your company and what you have going on.
Although this may seem daunting, we’ve broken down some tangible ways you can optimize your press release headlines to achieve the best results.
Without further ado, let’s review ten tips for writing an effective press release headline that stands out from the crowd.
1. Make it catchy and concise
Eight out of ten readers won’t make it past the headline, so you’d better make it great.
One of the trickiest parts of writing headlines is conveying a lot of information in a few words. You need to capture your reader’s attention in just a few seconds, so keeping things short and to the point is key.
Be sure not to bury the lede. Your audience should get a good sense of what the article’s about right off the bat.
2. Don’t sensationalize
Click-bait titles and headings are standard on media sites because they offer a surefire way to quickly capture people’s attention and entice the reader to learn more. But being inauthentic will cause the reader to bounce just as quickly as you caught their eye.
Honesty is the best policy, which includes your headlines. Find the balance between eye-catching and sensationalization so that you can set realistic expectations for your readers.
If you introduce a concept in your headline, flesh it out in the body of the press release. Don’t create false expectations or risk losing future media coverage opportunities (or your readers’ trust).
3. Consider your target audience
It’s important to know who your target audience is when coming up with a press release headline. Your headline should be a message that your target audience will care about. It should resonate with their collective wants and needs.
There are two target audiences for a press release: the publications and journalists you’ll send it to and the people who’ll benefit from hearing your news story. Both audiences are important, so crafting your messaging with both in mind is crucial.
For example, if property owners want to rent their units to pet owners, their headline could say, “Spacious Units Available in a Pet-Friendly Community.” This headline speaks to the audience’s specific needs and pain points.
4. Use statistics with numbers
Numbers are a great way to get your audience’s attention, especially if the statistics represent success and opportunities for growth in your industry.
Using statistics helps make your news release worthy of direct quotes in relevant publications. It also allows your audience to quantify some of the value of your entire story, which is undoubtedly a win. You can use a tool to help you easily visualize the statistics you’ve collected.
Remember only to use statistics backed by facts or studies from reputable sources. Don’t make up statistics or stretch the truth to benefit your cause. People will catch onto the phoniness, and it’ll reflect poorly on your brand.
5. Try not to use your name
There are many places in a press release where you can mention your brand’s name, but the headline isn’t one of them.
Avoiding brand names in headlines is a well-known rule in the public relations space because it can make the press release seem like an advertorial – an advertisement disguised as an editorial. Advertorials can feel off-putting and salesy.
If you’re worried about keeping your brand out of the heading, remember that you can include a short description of your organization with your logo, website links, and contact details at the end of your press release.
Like any rule, there are exceptions here. For example, if your brand is partnering or merging with another major brand, having both brand names in the headline is valuable.
6. Don’t be salesy
Finding the right tone for your press release headline can be difficult. It needs to be appealing to journalists but shouldn’t be particularly salesy.
A press release aims to gain coverage for your brand’s story or announcement and to shape your brand’s image. There’s no use in clouding that objective with an effort to sell something else.
It’s not an appropriate place to sell your product or services to your audience. However, it’s a great place to start your sales process by convincing your audience and potential customers why they should care about your brand.
Although you’re technically telling a story or the “why,” you won’t use the same language or techniques you’d use to sell a product or service.
With that said, your tone should be informative and engaging. Sometimes, it’s also necessary to bring empathy, trust, and community connectedness themes. You can brainstorm alternative headlines or use AI-powered tools like ChatGPT to test different tones and structures.
7. Repurpose your marketing assets
Another tip is to take inspiration from the copy you’ve written for your marketing efforts. If you’ve already found an appealing way to convey your message, you might as well reuse it.
For example, you can repurpose the messaging you’ve created into catchy and concise press release headlines. You can also extract key phrases you’ve found successful in the past and use them again.
If you decide to pull in headlines from your landing pages or subject lines from your emails, make sure you tweak them so that they come across appropriately from a public relations perspective.
8. Treat it like a book title
Coming up with a press release heading is like coming up with a title for a book. Like a book title, a press release heading plays a huge role in determining whether the target audience will read the rest of the text.
The media can view press releases with the same skepticism as leadership books. From the reader’s perspective, there are far too many different authors to expect to read something truly “new.”
To dispel this skepticism, the title must be so intriguing that people are bound to pay attention. Again, it should be catchy yet informative.
Just like book titles, sometimes it’s easier to write the headline of a press release after you’ve written the body. Why? Because you’ll find inspiration along the way, you can boil all your ideas down to a condensed statement for the headline.
9. Check grammar
Your press release headline gives you a chance to make a good impression on your audience. Part of that is perfect grammar because an error will reflect poorly on your brand.
Make sure you look for typos. Correct all spelling errors, capitalization inconsistencies, and misused punctuation.
Using an editing tool like Grammarly or Hemmingway App is a great start, but using a human editor is the most valuable approach. Even if your team doesn’t have a dedicated editor, it’s wise to have a couple of additional sets of eyes review your headings.
Pay particular attention to the tense. If you write part of your heading in the present tense, the entire line should be in the present tense. And take extra caution when using the past tense.
It’s also worth noting that you can take some liberties with grammar rules in public relations, but blatant errors aren’t a great look. If you’re going to bend the rules, do so with intention and make sure it still sounds professional.
10. Be careful with humor
Puns and jokes can be fun to spice up your copy, especially if it aligns with your brand’s ethos. However, press release headlines aren’t always the best place to crack a joke. Keeping things serious and matter-of-fact helps to maintain a professional impression in the press.
If there’s a pun or joke you feel inclined to include in your headline, consider your audience. If you decide to include humor, ensure it’ll land well with your audience. Think of different sectors of your audience and think about their potential reactions.
If you have questions about whether your joke is appropriate for your press release headlines, we recommend erring on the side of caution.
Wrapping it up
Nailing your press release headlines is key to getting attention to your brand’s story or announcement.
By applying these tips to your press release headlines, you can maximize the attention on your release to get more coverage and increase your brand awareness tenfold.
Can you already hear the buzz?
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