Did the headline capture your attention? Do you want to
find out what the secret weapon is? Will you keep reading?

 
Whether you want to sell a product to a web surfer through a
classified ad or sell a story idea to a reporter through a
news release, you have to capture their attention first.

 
Web surfers are notorious for … well … surfing. They
keep moving if you don’t grab their interest right away.

 
Most press releases get looked at for something like five
seconds.

 
‘How can anyone make a judgment on a story’s newsworthiness
in five seconds?’ you’re asking.

 
By reading the headline.

 
Truth is, the headline is often the only thing on a release
that gets read. If it’s not attention grabbing, the release
generally takes a dive into the circular file.

 
Readers and surfers react just as quickly. You have only a
few seconds and the few words of a headline to hook them and
reel them in to keep reading.

 
The secret weapon to capture your reader’s attention is a
great headline.

 
And if you’ve got headline writer’s block as you sit down at
the keyboard…and you could use some inspiration to get
your creativity cooking again…just turn on any of the
network newscasts.

 
Think about it. Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather
are selling to you all time, and they’re doing it through
headlines.

 
Only the headlines are called ‘teases.’

 
In the language of the newsroom, teases are those quick and
often intriguing snippets of information they feed you just
before they go to a break. The idea is to make you say to
yourself, ‘Hey, I don’t wanna miss that.’

 
And because you don’t want to miss that, you’ll keep your
fingers off the remote through two minutes of commercial
babble about antacids, anti-depressants and laxatives.

 
Teases are aptly named. They’re designed to show you a
little, but not too much. There’s always a question, stated
or not, that’s left unanswered. Their appeal is in their
mystery.

 
Here are some recent examples I’ve heard…

 
‘It’s a musical instrument that can kill you…’

 
‘It’s in your home…your blinds, your dishes…and it’s
poisoning your kids…’

 
‘Who would pay two million dollars for a piano?’

 
‘Will kids getting high keep a drug from going to people who
really need it?’

 
‘It’s an environmental hazard that threatens every drop of
your drinking water…’

 
I’m sure you get the point. Your news release or ad headline
should accomplish the same thing as those teases: make the
reader want to keep going to unravel the mystery.

 
And that’s a big step in getting them to buy your pitch.
Whether your pitch is an ad for a product directed to
consumers or an idea for news coverage directed to someone
in the media.

 
Hey, it works for Tom, Peter and Dan–it will work for you
too.

 



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the process.
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