Editor’s Corner – November Edition

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.

A Tip from Business Wire: Own Your Headline!

by Christina Jahnke, Editor, Business Wire/Chicago

Think your release will stand out in a crowd? If you don’t own your headline, think again! Hundreds of headlines scroll across the Business Wire website (and the multitude of feeds we reach) on a daily basis. How is it possible to draw crowds to you, when the only tools you have are words? It’s simple, really: Choose words wisely.

Having run the Chicago Marathon over Columbus Day weekend, I was entertained and inspired by the many spectator signs on course. Unfortunately, there were so many signs and only a passing moment to read them. The slogans that took hold were clear, witty and, most importantly, could be read inside three seconds. Anything longer and I missed the punch line en route to the next aid station. This is a great analogy for those scrolling feeds. Eyes are moving fast over those headlines. If you don’t stand out, you may be passed over. Take a tip to own your headline!

Here are three to consider:

1.  Include your organization’s name.
Ownership implies a name, and that is perhaps the most important element. Don’t assume the public knows who you are, no matter how big you are. These press releases are the story of your organization on the Web. Give your company the recognition it deserves! Additionally, those who search by your company’s name will have a way to find your release on the Internet.

2.  Be concise.
The three-second rule fits perfectly. Be brief in summarizing the content of your press release. Longer headlines are less likely to be picked up by search engines. Be concise. Less is more.

3.  Stay on point.
You have something important to say. While it’s good to be concise, don’t let the effort to be succinct overshadow the message. Read and re-read your headline. Are you staying on point or trying to fit too much in too small a space?

The headline is the first appearance of your message to the world. Own it, and help your release go the distance!

-Christina Jahnke, Editor, Business Wire Chicago

3 Responses to Editor’s Corner – November Edition

  1. Kathy Roche says:

    I agree that your company’s name should be in every headline for every press release you send. Question is: When the organization’s name is five words in length and it’s rather difficult to manage. It can be shortened to three words but it’s not our full name. Any suggestions or thoughts?

    (And, no, I certainly cannot change the name of the organization!)

  2. Tom Rigoli says:

    Long company names are cumbersome not only in headlines but in body copy and every other application. If you can’t get your execs to consider changing the name of the company, then opt for the three words they find OK — and then leverage this use to create a 3-letter acronym (complete with logo applications). Repeated use of the acronym overtime sets the stage for you to use it in the headline… thus moving the obligatory mention of the full company name into the subhead or the first graf of the the release.

  3. Monika Maeckle says:

    Cristina Jahnke replies:

    Tom makes a fine point! Acronyms are very useful when dealing with longer names. We Editors often see an acronym in parens after the full name of the organization in some releases. This sets the stage for its use. If this is not an option, however, greater care must be taken with the remainder of your headline. For example:

    Company With Very Long Name That Includes All Founders Announces Jane Q. Everyman as New Chief Technology Officer

    While this doesn’t roll off the tongue easily, moving the Company name to the end of the headline will help get the point across. The action of the Management Change is then no longer buried under the weight of a long Company name:

    Jane Q. Everyman Installed as CTO for Company With Very Long Name That Includes All Founders

    Again, read and reread those headlines. Chances are, the more you tinker with it, you’ll find a better option!

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