Did You Know? A Giveaway of the 7 Must-See Words in Headlines

Rebecca Benison Media Relations Specialist, PR.com

Posted on February 6th 2013

Did You Know? A Giveaway of the 7 Must-See Words in Headlines

Compelling Copy to Attract Readers

No matter what you’re writing, chances are you’d like it to be read. Press releases, blog posts, news articles, emails – oh my! We are bombarded with so many things on a daily basis, but how many do we actually read? Get your audience interested right out of the gate. Grab ‘em with an enticing and effective headline that is also accurate about your content. Sifting through my inbox, scanning news headlines and reading social media posts, here are some words that get me to click.

Power words for a click-worthy headline:

1. Chance

Everyone deserves a chance, right? So when you’re offered a chance – to win money, fame or fortune, or perhaps the secret to better headlines – you’re probably going to take it. In my inbox was an email offering me the chance to win concert tickets in exchange for taking a survey. Had I not been given the chance to win, I wouldn’t have bothered. Why should I expend my time to better their product? But they made it worth my while, giving me a chance to win something of value. I didn’t win, but they still got me to take the survey. We both took a chance, and for them, it paid off.

2. See

Humans are such visual creatures. We read, we look, we watch – all things that require us to see. We can learn new things and find entertainment from the mere act of seeing. So when brands use this word, it’s a call to action. “See what we did,” “See what you can do,” etc. We find it hard to say no to such a command, because we constantly seek to learn and be entertained. Using the word “see” is practically a dare.

3. Must

Again, this is a command. Another person is telling me that I must read this because it will help me in some way. Even if I don’t know the person issuing the command, the fact that somebody else feels so strongly about sharing this makes it seem that much more worthwhile. The word means even more when it’s coming from an impartial party. Meaning that if you add “Must” to the title of your work, and that work gets shared, the person sharing is now telling me I must read this. It’s almost like a testimonial.

4. How to

We all like learning new things, and when somebody starts a post with “How to…” it’s a perfect invitation. We know exactly what this piece is going to be about, and if it’s a broad enough topic that’s applicable to many people, you’re sure to receive a flurry of interest.

5. Why

Though normally posed as a question, this word has an undeniable talent for answering questions that were never asked. Once it’s posed as an answer, we find we must get to the bottom of this un-asked question. It’s an odd little trick that always seems to work. Like the impulse items strategically placed by cash registers. You didn’t need gum five minutes ago, but now that it’s there…

6. Did you know?

This phrase is similar to “why,” but even more engaging because now you’re challenging readers’ knowledge. People love feeling like they know more than the next guy, so of course they want to find out whether or not they know this nugget of information. If they did know it, they get a little pat on the back. If not, they do now, and they can test the next person who comes walking by.

7. Give Away

People love free stuff. If there’s something you can offer your readers for free, do it and make it known. Launching a new book? Give some away to the first respondents. Offering goodie bags at the next trade show? Let everybody know in advance. You’ll get more people clicking to find out how to get the goods, and more people in attendance to pick them up.

Using a simple lexicon, you can create an audience that wants to read your work. Once they’re thus engaged, don’t let them down! It’s great to have an attention-getting headline, but it’s beyond disappointing when the story itself doesn’t live up to the hype. Make sure you’re providing something of value, and then strategize the words that will get people interested.

Our title must have clicked for you, but what other words work to your advantage in copywriting?


Rebecca Benison

Media Relations Specialist, PR.com

Rebecca Benison is a media relations professional at PR.com, a leader in press release distribution. Follow PR.com on Twitter at @PRcom or visit www.PR.com.

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