Five Secrets Copywriting Pros Use to Create Headlines

The first thing a producer sees is your headline. If you don’t capture their interest in your first line, most producers won’t read any further; you’ve lost your chance to pitch your idea.

Headlines make you care. Write them in a conversational tone and design them to reach the specific audience that has a need or a desire for what you’re promoting. Notice I say “desire” because people “need” very few things. The more direct you are the better. In other words, entice then deliver.

Below are each one of the secrets followed by an example:

1. The How-to.

“How to Get on Oprah in 10 Easy Steps.”

When people want to learn about something they turn to “How-to” information as their quickest source. Using numbers is one way to let your audience know that what follows will be easy to digest. “How to” in the title immediately alerts your reader that you plan to give them something they can put to use today in a format they can follow.

2. The Command

“Become an Internet Millionaire!”

Though this is a frequent cry, it still has an immediate effect. Why? Commands assure you that there is a way to get what you want from the advice that follows. They touch the “I want that!” place inside you. They tell the reader that it’s possible to achieve the benefit you’re “advertising.” Your copy then backs-up your claim.

3. The Shocking Statement.

“Wives Who Don’t Want Sex.”

Oprah did a show on this topic stating that “experts now estimate that up to 40 million women suffer from a loss of sexual desire–and it’s likely their partners suffer too.” She even calls it “A secret epidemic.”

Who knew? Bring up the unlikely, the counterintuitive (Even women who loved their husbands in every other way, just didn’t have the desire for sexual intimacy. One woman who ditched the headache excuse, came up with a new approach to avoiding sex: Start an argument). Provocative statements get our attention like an electrical shock. They make you sit up and say, “Really?”

4. The Question.

“Do you really know your mate?”

People often unconsciously answer the question you pose in their minds. Your body copy will piggyback with an answer that includes statistics. Something like: “55% of all couples say that they do, but then are shocked when they find out about a partner’s hidden desire.”

5. The “New” News Item.

“Find out about the only drug that cures unhappiness.”

The latest news flash needs to introduce something truly new in order to be valid. To be newsworthy, “new news” promises excitement, informs, or states something helpful that will benefit a lot of people. Words like “only, new, introducing, powerful, and first,” are a few words that insist on attention. But use them sparingly and carefully, producers and reporters have a low tolerance for any kind of hype. Also, if you say you’re first, it needs to be true.

© Susan Harrow. All rights reserved. Get tips like this and more than 100 pages of insights and hot tips in Susan’s new book “The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked on Oprah: 10 Steps to Becoming a Guest on the World’s Top Talk Show.” You’ll find dozens of ideas, advice on how to pitch Oprah producers, and insider secrets from the best publicists in the business. Click here to find out more and read chapter excerpts.