News releases are used every day to inform audiences about recent changes within an organization. Some are successful, garnering editorial coverage, attention and eyeballs. Many others are glanced at and ignored. What is the difference? Turns out, it might not be the news you’re sharing, but the words you’re using to describe it.

Business Wire invited writing coach and CEO of Wylie Communications, Ann Wylie, to share her tips on writing news release headlines that reporters and consumers will open and retaining their interest within a three-second window.

7 tips to write an attention-grabbing headline

  • Understand that your reader, not your company or product, is the story
  • Include the name of the issuing organization in the headline or sub-headline to make it clear who is making the announcement
  • Put your power words in the first 11 characters of your headline
  • Use a verb that screams action; the verb is the crux of your story
  • Do not bury the verb, showcase it
  • Cut out the hype, adjectives and adverbs
  • Keep it short, 5-8 words, max

A great headline will increase your news release open rates, but what happens when they open the news release? To retain readers and truly drive the message adoption of the news you want to share, make the body of your news release skim-friendly.

Take the skim-friendly test

  • Are your main points in your headline?
  • Have you communicated your major ideas in the sub-headline?
  • Did you create a visual journey for your reader using formatting – bullets, bold font and highlights?
  • Have you emphasized your key points?
  • Did you test your copy? Has a coworker skimmed your text to see if they can recite your key messages?
  • Have you included hyperlinks to useful supporting information?
  • Is your content worth the reader’s effort? Is it informative or entertaining?

Every single news release competes for space and attention. Following these tips gives your release a fighting chance to be seen, to attract interest and to deepen message adoption.

Learn more from Ann Wylie

RSVP for her upcoming PR-writing training: Learn to write NOT Your Father’s News Release – online (Aug. 31-Sept. 28) or in Kansas City (Sept. 24-25).

Get the full recap 

Download our How-to Guide: Instructions on writing a reporter-friendly news release.


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