PR Tactic: The Press Release Headline

12.11.19 PR Tool

What is it?

Press release headline writing is one of the least understood, and most important PR skills to master.

Why should you use it?

Well let’s be honest – you don’t have an option to opt-out of this one. Every press release needs a headline. The astonishing thing is how bad most headlines are. The only questions that matters here is how, because that’s the one that most people get wrong.

How should you use it?

Here’s a piece of advice that should change your PR practice forever. Always write your press release headline first, before you get into any details about your story. Ask yourself:

“Can I write it in less than eight words and bring it to life?”

When I’m writing a press release I have an approach that I call the “Galloping Horse” strategy. With this strategy, the only thing that you need to be successful is the most exciting headline you can imagine for the story. Read about the “Galloping Horse” strategy in our blog post here.

Let me give you an example of how it works.

A few years ago Irish forklift manufacturer Combilift called and said they were opening a new headquarters in an old chicken factory and wondered in that classic way if they could get ‘a bit of PR’ for their efforts. I went and met them and asked a few pertinent questions. How much was the new development going to cost? Why was it significant? Would it create any jobs? Once they gave me the answers I thanked them and promised that I would be back the following morning with the ‘Galloping Horse’. They looked at me a little bemused, wondering what I meant.

It’s called the ‘Galloping Horse’ strategy because it’s a story, so exciting that you will have to pull the reins on it, just to keep it in check.

“10 million investment to create 100 jobs in new Combilift Global Headquarters.”

Simple, effective, full of promise and energy and even a little exciting.

How can you achieve that in your headline? When you read a press release headline you should be curious to learn more. It should pique your interest and your curiosity.

For the ‘Galloping Horse’, you should follow this process:

  • Start with the press release headline. Write it before you write anything else.
  • Ask yourself: How can I make it:

Simpler.

More Impactful.

Exciting.

Relevant.

Immediate.

Full of action.

  • You can learn more on headlines by following MediaHQ on Twitter. Every week our users share thousands of press releases with the media.
  • Go somewhere quiet, where you can’t be interrupted. Sometimes I go to our local coffee shop. This is an exercise that needs deep concentration. For at least 30 minutes write as many versions of the headline as you can. Don’t agonise, just get the headlines on the page. You’re not looking for perfect, just a selection of ideas. In some, you’ll just tweak a word or a point of emphasis. I always do this longhand. It removes distractions and gives me a better connection with the creative process.
  • When finished pick the five headlines you think are best.
  • Call in a few colleagues and pick the best two between you. It’s best to find colleagues who are honest, yet supportive. You don’t want a negative person in this process.
  • Only now are you ready to write the story. You are writing it to order, the order of the headline. It’s simple to match the energy in the headline of a story with the right text. It’s very difficult to retrofit the right headline on the wrong press release.

Now that you know that crafting a press release headline is a powerful skill to master to generate extra coverage, stay on the radar by finding the right media contacts on our database. Get a demo of our services, by clicking here or call Gaye today on 01 254 1845.