This is an update to a post originally published on the Brilliant Ink blog in September 2011 by Liz Kelly.
What makes you jump to click, or tap for you mobile and tablet lovers, on a link to a story? We’ve all been pulled in by them before, even if we’re just quickly skimming the page to catch up on the latest news (or gossip or sports).
A quick glance at today’s news drew me in with...
“Car Dangles over SF Street!”
“Speed and Spin: Nadal’s Lethal Forehand!”
...and one of my favorite op-ed writers, Maureen Dowd, “Darth Vadar Vents.”
This is the stuff that communicators dream of—compelling, can’t-look-away, gotta read headlines, which hook the reader, even if she or he doesn’t like tennis or has never seen Star Wars.
Now flip to your company newsletter or intranet, scan the headlines and quiz yourself. How many of them leave you feeling confused, bored or both
? Did you fall asleep while reading? Yikes!
Writing headlines isn’t easy; it’s something I struggle with, and admittedly I’ve contributed my fair share of sub-par ones. And, as internal communicators, we’re not always tasked with writing page-turners and breaking news, but that shouldn't stop us from trying. To get started, check out some of the tools and articles we've found to help you grab your readers' attention:
We're pretty obsessed with these tools from CoSchedule.com:
Tools from Ragan Communications:
- CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer tool. It's a tool meant for marketer blog posts, but we don't see why it shouldn't also apply to intranet headlines! You simply type in your headline into the free tool, and it will score your overall headline quality and rate its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic, and SEO value.
- This article from CoSchedule: 43 Data-Driven Headline Ideas From 1,000 Of The Most Popular Posts. It's FULL of phenomenal ideas (including MadLibs-style tricks to help you craft your headlines.)
A few more tools for the road:
- Check out this super helpful Ragan.com article, How to Write Headlines that Repel Readers, and you’ll never again type cringe-worthy lines such as “Enabling Talent,” “Developing the New Portal” or “Calling for Action.” Steer clear of that last one in particular, which has been voted Ragan.com’s all-time worst headline.
- Here's another gem brought to you by Ragan.com, Five Tips for Writing the Sexiest, Most Stimulating Headlines EVER! The equally amusing subtitle goes like this, What reading Cosmo taught one reporter about the value of must-read, gotta-have headline essentials.