Grab the Media’s Attention – Use Effective Headlines!

December 4, 2012 By: Pamela - No Comments

In the previous blog post I discussed the importance of using the 5W’s that journalists look for in your press release. As a reminder, the 5Ws are the Who, What, When, Where and Why (and sometimes How) in the first paragraph and the body of your press release.

The next aspect of the press release covers the structure or layout of the release, namely the headline, the first paragraph, the middle paragraphs and the final details. For the purpose of this post, I will only cover the headline and sub-headline.

The Headline 

This is the very first thing that any editor will read. The headline should be one sentence that captures the core announcement and includes a keyword. A weak headline will often result in a release being rejected from the very start. Write a headline that will create an impact using eye-catching words such as ‘announces’ and ‘new’ on if this is true for you. You don’t want to risk losing your credibility if it is not. Your headline must be compelling as this is the hook that grabs the editor’s attention and gets them reading more.

Writing headlines:  

  • Determine what is the most significant benefit the reader will derive from this news
  • Strive to state the benefit in seven words or less
  • Ask yourself if your statement is meaningful to anyone else not involved with the business. 
  • An ideal font type is Times New Roman in a font size of 14 pt. The headline should be bold and centered and is below “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”
  • Try to fit it on one single line, 8 – 10 words
  • Use the active voice and the present tense.

When crafting the headline, strive to achieve the greatest impact using the fewest of words. Editors look for information in the headline so do your best to at least include who, what and why.


The purpose of the sub-headline is to expand on the core announcement and should be one sentence. Not all press releases have a sub-headline.

Writing sub-headlines:

  • An ideal font type is Times New Roman in a font size of 12 pt. The sub-headline should be bold, italicized (optional), centered and below the headline. 
  • Amplify the headline and introduce one additional key point. 
  • Aim for keeping this to one sentence of up to 14 words

See the following example:


So now that you know and understand the importance of a powerful headline and sub-heading, it’s time to put your thinking cap on.

I’m curious, what was one of the most interesting headlines that you’ve read lately? Share with us here.