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Getting intimate with your audience with Jagger-like headlines for press releases

Getting intimate with your audience with Jagger-like headlines for press releases

Father of advertising and famed copywriter David Ogilvy once said: “When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar”. That’s because out of 5 people who read your headline, only 1 will move to the story. The question is how to craft a more engaging headline to get more people craving for the rest of your content. In an era of deadly competition for a moment of your target customers’ attention it is becoming much more important to understand how to get them dating after the flirting. Be it a press release, blog post, news article or video, take the first step with a Jagger-like headline.

First impression matters!

First impression matters and your headline gives the first impression about the rest of your content. Saying so, it is not always easy to formulate a headline that gives a hint of your piece and at the same time looks sexy enough to encourage your desired action – be it; clicks, shares, views etc.   

In the world of social media, digital experience and clickbaits, crafting a perfect headline has become more and more frustrating. That’s because everything boils down to it and the stress of knowing all your work will go in vain if nobody finds your title attractive makes it more nerve-racking. It is much more so, as the algorithms are getting very selective, the content shared every day is increasing and the standards of consumers are skyrocketing.  

However, there are some tips that we drafted for you to make things easier, while crafting an headline. If our topic is press releases, then expertise is also needed. You always have the option to work with a PR (public relations) specialist or a PR agency for your press releases. You can also choose to work with an online PR service like B2Press, which has a pay-as-you-go model to write and distribute press releases, monitor and report.

Bad medicine

This will sound a little sad but all the research from many different sources is pointing out that it is mainly the insecurities of people that drives them to take your targeted action. The readers like it more when you have a title with negative superlatives or when you treat them like a clever clog or even get bossy. Subconsciously, these are all because they make the headlines sound more organized, to the point and “easier to digest”. 

Take for example the results of a research done by social analytics company BuzzSumo, which reviewed 100 million headlines to figure out which common phrases drove (or at least correlated to) the most social engagement. They found out that using negative superlatives (like worst) in headlines can be more seducing than positive superlatives – words like best, biggest, greatest. The same finding is confirmed with a study of 65,000 titles by Outbrain where they compared positive superlative headlines, negative superlative headlines and no superlative (neutral) headlines. The study found that headlines with negative superlatives performed 30% better than the neutral headlines. Moreover, and shockingly, the positive superlatives performed 29% worse than the neutral ones (Figure 1)! The average click-through rate on headlines with negative superlatives was 63% higher than those with positive ones.

Positive vs. Negative Superlatives in Titles

Figure 1

Another headline study conducted by Startup Moon tech blogs found a huge difference between the viral spread of a post titled “How to use Android SDK” (SDK meaning software development kit) and another titled “The beginners guide to Android SDK.” Although the titles have the same meaning adding words like “Introduction”, “The beginners guide”, “In 5 minutes” and “DIY” is providing more viral variations on the how-to. That’s because it feels like they are giving more specific info and they seem easier to understand.  

So next time when you are thinking about drafting a headline like “How to get your bedroom more organized” you might try “The 5 minute guide to organizing bedroom for a better sleep”!

Raising curiosity  

Raising curiosity is another way to get your target audience on the hook. This is especially a common clickbait tactic. In case you didn’t hear before Oxford’s definition of a clickbait, it is a content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page. But you are already familiar with them because they are usually positioned as thumbnails at the bottom of the page of your favorite news source piquing your interest.

Raising curiosity with headlines

The key here is raising curiosity and providing just enough information to get attention but not enough to satisfy the curiosity. This is something you can also use for your headlines but unlike the clickbaits - that sometimes provide misleading information - your headline should stay true to your story. 

Some structural tips for ultimate headlines

There are many formulas to build a headline ranging from Lenka Istvanova’s (Koozai Marketing) “Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise” (Ex. 10 Simple Steps You Can Take Today That Will Make You Happier) to Bnonn’s (KISSmetrics) SHINE headlines (S – Specificity, H – Helpfulness, I – Immediacy, N – Newsworthiness, E – Entertainment value). You can find a good brief on them on Kevan Lee’s Buffer article.

But there are also some quick tips that you can take into account next time you are working on your headline:

  1. Aim it to use 6 to 14 words: A typical headline is 7-10 words long. But some sources swore on the 6-word-long headlines while other researches find that 14-word-long titles are much intriguing. The character number hence differs between 42 to 120 (Figure 2). Hence, try not to go shorter or longer than these…

Average Page Views Per Release Based on Headline Character Count

Figure 2

Below are top five headlines which got people to read a full version of a press release based on a study of more than 500 optimized press releases conducted by Reuters in collaboration with SEO-PR experts:

  • “Jay Leno Opens Up to CarTV, AutoBytel’s Car News Channel, About His Newest Love Interest – A 2005 Ford GT”
  • “Halloween Pumpkin Carving Stencils and Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Recipes Featured in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine”
  • “Search Engine Marketing Organization (SEMPO) Announces Three New Members of Advisory Board”
  • “Click Fraud, an Industry Crisis, or Blip on the Search Engine Marketing Landscape?”
  • “BHG.com Holds Straw Poll for Halloween Pumpkin Carving Stencils of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain and Sarah Palin”

  1. Try to use (odd) numbers: Numbers are generally seen as a catchy component for headlines. A Conductor study reveals that readers prefer number headlines to most of the others and the most attractive number is 10, followed by 3 and 7. Interestingly, “odd” numbers are preferred over “even” numbers (Figure 3).

Overall Headline Preferences

Figure 3

  1. A study published in The Guardian states that thumbnails and images boost clicks by 27%. So, using them can help to improve your headline’s click-through rate.

Maybe it looks like a lot of fuss, but headlines are the key performance indicator of your content (be it a press release or video) since they encourage your audience to read, engage or share your content. It is not your press release or blog post that gets shared, it is your headline! 

Moreover, your headline also sets the frame for the rest of the experience cause it creates an expectation for the people and it can change the perception when they are reading your content. Hence, taking into account the “people” factor you should not be focusing too much on SEO. Your headline and sub-headline should stay true to your story. 

Before we finish the blog post, you can take a look at a well-prepared infographic by QuickSprout Resources entitled What Makes a Good Headline.  

Now that you have acknowledged the importance of it one more time and got some quick tips about it, it is time to go over the headlines on your web site to improve your traffic prospects and click through rates.

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