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🔥 How The Pros Write Great Press Release Headlines 2021 🔥

How The Pros Write Great Press Release Headlines 2021

Knowing how to draft a press release is a valuable ability to have as a marketer. However, it is not an easy task. If you're used to writing other types of inbound content for the web, you might assume press releases are difficult to create.

Keith Peterson
Last updated: Sep 17, 2021 | Aug 19, 2021

Table of Contents

Knowing how to draft a press release is a valuable ability to have as a marketer. However, it is not an easy task. If you're used to writing other types of inbound content for the web, you might assume press releases are difficult to create.They have their own set of formatting guidelines, vocabulary, and target audience, but that's the beauty of this medium: after you've mastered the fundamentals, you're free to get creative. 

Knowing how to draft a press release is a valuable ability to have as a marketer.

A press release can be a strong weapon in a time when the majority of Americans prefer to acquire their news online. Knowing how to play your PR cards correctly can help you gain the attention of journalists, the media, and, ultimately, your clients and customers. A news release may help you tell your story the way you want it to be told, whether it's about a new product line, a company event, or a new award you've received.

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1 Min Summary

Imagine you're competing for attention, and write a title that encapsulates the major takeaway from your press release in a way that makes readers want to learn more.

Because your logo and standard corporate information are included in the press release, there's no need to repeat your name in the headline.

Answer "Who cares?" The most difficult part of writing a press release is convincing people to read the headline and want to learn more.

Despite the fact that the release is on the long side and the video displays an error warning, it is still an excellent example of a well-done event-type press release.

Examples

Cakes For Babies Set To Transform Meal Times For Parents

Parkinson's Charity Marks 20th Birthday With Year Of Voices

Sibling Rowers Break World Record Crossing The Atlantic

Capitalization

The first letter of each key word should be capitalized. Articles, conjunctions, and prepositions should be capitalized only when they occur at the beginning or end of your headline.

Generators

  • Title Generator
  • The Hoth
  • Content Row

Length

Headline should be no more than 10 words.

10 Tips

  • Include 1–3 call-to-actions in your release to keep the excitement rolling.
  • Include up to 10 photographs of your new brand identity and explain why you're changing if you're undergoing a rebrand.
  • Write as if it Were a Front Page Article
  • Use Active Voice
  • Use Appealing Data
  • Use Smart Headlines
  • Paint a Picture
  • Answer the Question
  • Harness the Power of Punctuation
  • Answer “Who cares?”

Tense

Headline should always be in active tense.

Notice how the verb "opens" is in the active tense - it's not "opening" or "opened"... It doesn't matter if it happened three weeks ago; your title should make it seem as though it's happening right now. This is the usual headline structure for press releases. Some professionals would advise you to use ALL CAPS in your headline to capture attention, but I believe it is preferable to utilize Title Case to avoid annoying journalists. Consider this: how often do you read all-caps headlines in newspapers? To make things as simple as possible, follow their format.

Formatting

The headline, separated by one space, should follow the title of a press release.

Attention Grabbing

Include the 'How, What, Why, When and Where' of news.

The best headlines for a press release should meet the following criteria. Highlights what is new, a 'first', innovative, impactful or disruptive about your business. Include the 'How, What, Why, When and Where' of news. Not be stuffed full of hyperbole and exaggeration.

Analyzer

  • Share Through
  • Coschedule
  • Cision
  • Capitalize My Title

Why is it so hard to write great press release headlines?

Let's start with the following reasons:

  • Your title must pique journalists' interest enough to keep them reading. Keep in mind that you're pitching to folks who are inundated with press releases—why should they read yours?
  • It must convey the essence of your message in a short amount of time, which may or may not lend itself to nice, tidy summaries. Super-complex concepts reduced to a few words? This is your predicament.
  • It has to do all of this with a little amount of words or characters compared to what you believe you'll need.

If that appears to be a difficult task, it is. No one said it would be simple. However, it's crucial to remember that headline writing is both a science and an art—there are some guidelines to follow, but you'll undoubtedly improve with practice and your own creativity.

We can't help you much with your experience or imagination when it comes to writing press releases (or can we? ), so we've compiled a list of recommendations, samples, and basic principles to follow when writing press release headlines. Check your headline against these rules after you've gotten it on the page but before you publish it to see if there's anything you can do to give it that extra something that will produce results.

Here are some "musts" and "must-nots" when it comes to drafting amazing press release headlines. 

Remember who you’re writing for

Your press release is intended for journalists and others who can help spread the word about your announcement. The word "press release" is right there in the name.

This is a simple issue, but your title must speak to them. Why should they care about your announcement? Why should people care about what you're saying? What will they gain by disseminating it through their platform? What would their readers get from this?

You're already on the wrong track if you're not crafting your press release headlines with this very narrow and limited demographic in mind. Begin by remembering that your press release comprises your media pitch, and that those who read it are trying to tick specific boxes as they do so. It's time to move on to the next press release if they don't see the value in them. 

Use numbers where you can

Which statement has more impact on you: "Sales Up In The Third Quarter" or "Sales Up By 60% In The Third Quarter"? Of course, the second one. Numbers always assist the reader in creating a more full and engaging mental picture.

If statistics or anything else that helps to quantify what you're attempting to say can be added to your announcement, do so to make it easier for the reader to feel it. Journalists and readers alike benefit from assigning a numerical value to whatever you're discussing, so do everyone a favor, including yourself, by making those figures the focal point of your message.

Think of your PR as your company’s or organization’s newspaper

You've probably seen how similar press release headlines and newspaper headlines (both online and in print) are. It's possible to argue that it's the same language. Newspapers have the same problem that you do when writing a press release header: attracting attention and generating interest in a restricted amount of space.

So, imagine you're competing for attention, and write a title that encapsulates the major takeaway from your press release in a way that makes readers want to learn more.

You have the same job as a newspaper headline writer, and you know what kind of format grabs your attention in that environment.

Apply some simple grammar rules

Okay, we're not going to turn this into an English lesson, but there are a few helpful grammar rules to remember when creating press release titles.

First and foremost, keep in mind that in the area of headline writing, there is some leeway in terms of the tenses utilized. You may have observed that previous events, for example, are expressed in the present tense:

Organization X Hires John Smith to Lead Strategy Department  Company Y Announces Major Tech Breakthrough Association Z Opens New Location

All of these events occurred in the past, yet we employ the present tense to convey their importance. In the realm of headlines, nothing happened in the past, thus the past tense is out. If you're talking about upcoming activities or events, simply using the word "to" transports the reader into the future:

Organization X To Hire John Smith to Lead Strategy Department Company Y To Announce Major Tech Breakthrough Association Z To Open New Location

When it comes to grammar, the adage about using the active voice and avoiding the passive voice is very true. The specifics on this are a little outside of our wheelhouse, so if you're not sure which is which, click here to learn more.

Before we move on, there's one more thing I'd want to mention. We know there's a distinction between grammar and punctuation, but we'll use it anyway. Punctuation used correctly can benefit both you and the reader. It benefits both you and the reader by conserving space and explaining what could otherwise be misunderstood. Compare:

Company X to Expand to Florida and Georgia

Company X to Expand to Florida, Georgia

A New Start Company X to Launch Brand Makeover

A New Start: Company X to Launch Brand Makeover

There's no need to get too caught up in the rules of commas and colons; just keep in mind that one or the other could be just what you need in your next headline. 

Leave your name out of headlines

This may not always be possible depending on the situation, but it is frequently the case that you do not need to put your own name in the press release headline. The recipients and readers of your news release are aware that we are discussing you. Because your logo and standard corporate information are included in the press release, there's no need to repeat your name in the headline.

Save the valuable headline space for other information and avoid sounding like an advertisement. Keep in mind that the press release is about your message, not you. Remember to concentrate on your target audience and how your announcement relates to them.

Avoid salesy language and tone

Informational, not promotional, press releases are issued. Journalists have little interest in disseminating what is effectively a commercial. The who-what-when-why method is appropriate here, but keep in mind that the "why" stands for "why it's essential," not "why you should buy something."

Although the distinction between what belongs in an advertisement and what belongs in a press release can be hazy, there is one. When creating your press release headers, make sure you're not using anything that sounds like it belongs in a promotional text or an email that you'd instantly delete without reading. Journalists will detest being treated as though they are employees of your marketing department, so don't pitch them as such.

Careful with comedy

Everyone enjoys a creative headline with a humorous twist “Coffee business in latte trouble”! It's a terrific way to capture people's attention, and recipients will appreciate the extra work you put in to keep them entertained.

Coffee business in latte trouble

Many industries, products, and sectors are well-suited to something unusual like this, while others are not. Banks are not amusing. Insurance isn't amusing at all. Tax accountants, funeral homes, fertility clinics, and different medical procedures? Yeah, it's not amusing. Financial news should not be viewed as a joke by investors. This should be something that your common sense and good taste can help you with.

The desire to be creative while writing your headline is enormous, especially if your inner comic is dissatisfied. Successful attempts can be a significant step forward in your pursuit of media attention, but getting it wrong can be costly. When trying to stand out with funny twists to your press release headlines, be cautious and conservative.

Write the headline last

It may seem unusual, but if you're stuck on the headline and nothing looks or feels right, go on and come back to it after you've completed the rest of your writing. The act of elaborating on your announcement in the body of your press release might help you come up with new ideas by forcing you to look at things from a fresh perspective or consider an approach you hadn't considered previously.

Also, putting your headline first may set you on a conceptual path that you feel obligated to follow at the expense of other material. By saving your headline for last and drafting the content of the press release first, you might discover that the most essential takeaway isn't quite what you expected. When it comes to crafting outstanding press release headlines, there are several ways to get to the same place, so choose whatever method works best for you!

Use Appealing Data

Carrie Winans, SmartSign's public relations officer, advises, "Get to the heart of what your press release is actually about in the headline." It's critical to provide the most intriguing details there; "numbers that illustrate the tale is unique should always be prioritized." So, if your press release mentions a 48 percent reduction in plaque, use that figure in the headline!

Use Clever Headlines

Judy Crockett, a retail management consultant, has had a lot of success with titles that are spectacular or have a double meaning.

“I worked with a jeweler who was having a hard time gaining the respect of his peers. She claims he spent a lot of money on marketing and promotion.“

“I worked with a jeweler who was having a hard time gaining the respect of his peers. She claims he spent a lot of money on marketing and promotion.“ Other business executives in the downtown area where his store was located joked among themselves that the jeweler would be ‘belly up' with all this publicity. So I wrote a press release and sent it along with a photo to the media. ‘Jeweler Goes Belly Up,' says the headline. I added a snapshot of the jeweler, who was lying face down on the floor of his store. ‘Jimmy the Jeweler went out of business after giving away one too many gems.

Paint a Picture

“No, I'm not advising you to use obscenity in your title!”

Dave Manzer, managing director of Dave Manzer PR & Marketing, advises using bold language in headlines. “No, I'm not advising you to use obscenity in your title!” “However, you should use language that creates a picture,” he advises. Consider how you may make your headline more enticing in order to obtain more clicks.

Answer the Question

Christian Kendzierski, director of media relations at Mount Saint Mary's University, says she reduces her headline to the most important information for journalists. “I frequently give headlines to my stories/pitches (or press releases) that either ask the writer their first question or answer their first query... so the headline cuts through the wordage and gets to the substance of the story right away.”

Harness the Power of Punctuation

Knowing your punctuation can help you produce better headlines. The colon, according to Mandy Bray, principal copywriter at Bohlsen Group, is ideal for press release titles. “You want to incorporate a catchy header, but you can't keep the reader guessing. In a brief area, use a colon to shift from artistic to exposition. ‘When Nurses Unite: A Call for Nursing Leadership and Advocacy,' for example.”

Apply Alliteration

"Alliteration": the occurrence of the same starting consonant sound in two or more adjacent words or syllables (such as wild and woolly, threatening throngs).

Alliteration is a wonderful technique to get people to read your press release, according to Christine Blain, senior account executive at SHIFT Communications. “Using this traditional writing strategy frequently produces a snappy headline that is more likely to spark readers' interest and stay in their minds.”

Examples

As far as sound repetition goes, I don't have any principles. I try to stay away from heavy alliteration and other pyrotechnics because I think they detract from the sense of the poem and blur the imagery.

From: Maxine Kumin, "A Questionnaire," 1977, in To Make a Prairie, 1979

More specifically, how are actual events deformed by the application to them of metaphor, rhetorical comparison, prose rhythm, assonance, alliteration, allusion, and sentence structures and connectives implying clear causality?

From: Paul Fussel, The Great War and Modern Memory, 1975

Answer “Who cares?”

The most difficult part of writing a press release is convincing people to read the headline and want to learn more. According to Anthony Kirlew, founder and chief strategist at Infinion Marketing, you should: "Answer the 'who cares' question" in your title. Many don't, and as a result, they don't get the exposure they deserve.``

Events

It makes no difference whether your function is open to the public or not. In any case, a press release can be used.

If it's closed, your first priority should be to notify the public about the situation and what you plan to do about it (e.g. fundraiser events, political assemblies, etc). Even if it's for a private event, a press release about it can assist your organization highlight its progress toward its purpose.

If your event is accessible to the public (such as a grand opening, exhibition, or family event), your primary goal is to attract as many people as possible. This can be accomplished through compelling copy and pictures.

The art itself is the most appealing aspect of an art show. This Jimmy Nelson press release takes full advantage of it. Although the main image is crowded, it comes to life and captures your attention.

Furthermore, with all of the material on the page, this press release might be considered a full press kit. A detailed account of the event is included, as well as a summary, downloadable photographs, a PDF file, and clear contact information.

Despite the fact that the release is on the long side and the video displays an error warning, it is still an excellent example of a well-done event-type press release.

Pro tip: If your event has a strong visual component, emphasize that in your press release. Even if this isn't the case, you can still make the most of your press release by putting everything on one page, as if it were a full press kit.

Branding Changes

When your firm undergoes a significant transition, a press release is a smart way to start telling the public. A rebranding effort or the introduction of a new collaboration agreement could be the two most noticeable branding improvements. 

The first thing people will want to know when you announce a rebranding effort is what it looks like currently, and our Business Wire press release provides that information. It also includes supplementary illustrations to assist the reader in visualizing the new experience.

Once you've finished reviewing the new branding for yourself, the news release goes into great depth about the rest of the narrative. They do an excellent job of describing why the change was made, and then go over each of the rebranding pieces one by one, with explanations for each.

They also compel us to do more than simply read and acknowledge the news. There are three call-to-actions in the body of this press release if you don't count the boilerplate:

  • Tweet this
  • Preview Burger King’s new visual identity
  • Visit www.BK.com

This press release also caters to journalists who want to organize their sources using a news aggregator by including an RSS feed in the sidebar.

Keith Peterson | I'm an expert IT marketing professional with over 9 years of experience in various Digital Marketing channels such as SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), SMO (social media optimization), ORM (online reputation management), PPC (Google Adwords, Bing Adwords), Lead Generation, Adwords campaign management, Blogging (Corporate and Personal), and so on. Web development and design are unquestionably another of my passions. In fast-paced, high-pressure environments, I excel as an SEO Executive, SEO Analyst, SR SEO Analyst, team leader, and digital marketing strategist, efficiently managing multiple projects, prioritizing and meeting tight deadlines, analyzing and solving problems.

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