Compelling headlines get readers to stop and read your stories
February 25, 2016
By Ken Blum
So here you have a compelling collie-mix interest story all edited and ready for the front page of your newspaper. It’s about a family dog who ran off with a little mutt a few months ago, but then the little mutt runs off with a Rottweiler and our doggie decides life on the lamb is too ruff for his liking.
So it’s back home to kind masters and a fresh bowl of Kibbles ’n Bits™.
Now comes the headline—the magnet that draws the reader to the doggone story.
Dog Comes Home
Dog Alive and Well
Pet Returns after Three Months
These are the type of headlines you would see in too many hometown newspapers—yawners.
This is why I would like to see more community newspapers grab the reader’s attention first, and explain what the story is really about later, in a subhead.
Which brings us to headlines that produce big questions in the reader’s noggin; headlines that compel the reader to pick up the paper and start devouring the story, just like our hungry truant canine gobbles his Kibbles ’n Bits™.
I’m sure the journalism schools have a name for this brand of headline, but I’ll just call them “Wha’-dooya-means?”
When a reader sees a “Wha’-dooya-mean?” there’s only one thing he can do. And that’s find out “Wha’-dooya-mean?”
And to do that, he must read the story.
Check out the illustration of the Courier-Record of Blackstone, VA (edited by Billy Coleburn) with this column and you’ll see what I mean.
HOME SWEET HOME!
WHOOMP, there it is!
I would sure like to know.
So keep this in mind, you editors.
If you want to draw readers to your stories, don’t be boring, write a Wha’-dooya-mean? headline. © Ken Blum 2016
Ken Blum is the publisher of Butterfly Publications, an advising/speaking/publishing business dedicated to improving the profitability and quality of community newspapers. He puts out a monthly free e-mail newsletter titled Black Inklings. It features nuts and bolts ideas to improve revenue and profits at hometown papers. To subscribe to the newsletter or contact Ken, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org; or phone to 330-682-3416.