PART TWO: The art of headline writing
Bait & Hook
When writing a headline, it's good to think of it as bait or a lure to get your audience interested in the article or news story. Your ‘sell' which is usually a maximum of thirty words underneath the headline, is the hook and is used to capture the interest of the reader so they commit to reading the story. This sell should give the reader more information and cover off some of the five Ws (that's who, what, why, where & when if you're asking). This explained in part one.
So what makes a good headline?
In print, headlines are all about being short and snappy - in part to fit the page. But for online, headlines need keywords for search engine optimisation and require more description in them to grab your audience's attention.
Because of the nature of the web, “Organiser Excels!” doesn't go far enough to tell users about the story nor will it appear in any searches about events or exhibitions. Although nice and snappy, short headlines like this will undersell your article.
However, “Exhibition organiser 123 Events launch record event at ExCel London” is an example of a headline that is descriptive and is more likely to be clicked on. It doesn't tell the whole story but is full of SEO keywords and has a lure in “record event”.
What type of headline could you use?
As well as the descriptive headline example above, you can also use the following styles to try and engage with your audience.
Three Part Headline
[Head] Collaborative Exhibitions, Crowd-Funded Events & Virtual Streaming
“Our Event Industry Recovery Starts Here” - Joe Bloggs, 123 Events
This is an example of taking three key parts of an interview and using them to create an attention-grabbing headline. This works well for feature articles and interviews as it allows you to put in more keywords while advertising to the reader the range of subjects discussed in the piece. By also adding in the quote, you have the additional lure as well as the name of the person who is in the feature.
Hero Quote Headline
Sometimes when you are interviewing someone, they can come out with a glorious quote that is perfect to promote your story.
[Head] “Does the UK Government even now the exhibition industry exists?”
[Sell] Joe Bloggs, 123 Events MD, slams the lack of support given to the industry by Westminster.
This quoted headline has keywords in it while also grabbing attention by asking a profound question. A bucket full of bait, plenty of hook and hopefully lots of click through to read the story.
Bane & Antidote Headline
It can be tricky to use as essentially the ‘Bane' is something that is defamatory and therefore highly attention-grabbing. However the ‘Antidote' (which is either in the ‘sell' that is connected to the headline or the first paragraph) takes away the defamatory meaning (hopefully!).
[Head] 123 Events Collapses!
[Sell] After a record revenue making weekend at ExCel London, the 123 Events' team were left exhausted but celebrating the success after a brilliant three days of business.
Headline writing can be a bit of a trial and error. But as long as you know your subject matter, audience and take time to consider what will make for an interesting hook into your story, the community you are writing for will become engaged and come back to your website for more
Follow this link for PART ONE: Content writing made easy