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Headline words that spell media release success

01 Jun, 2020 Media relations

Uncertain about the best words to use in headlines for your media releases? Certain words are much more likely to get media to pick up a release. In fact, certain words are almost sure to hit the hot buttons of a news editor. Read more about these headline words that spell media release success.

Words that work

Words like “safe,” “secret,” “trick,” and “breaking” in the headline of a media release usually strike a response because they suggest something new and fresh (as long as they are genuine attributes. Same with superlatives like “first,” “most,” “tallest” and “fastest.”

Writing the headline of a media release is like writing a newspaper headline or the subject line of an email – each word is important.

The words in the heading are now even more important than ever because they need to be written for search engines as well.

Words that lift the response to a media release vary from region to region and industry to industry.

For instance, when basic words like “baby,” “break up,” “heartbreak,” “marriage” and “divorce” are linked in a media release about the entertainment industry with the names of big stars like Kim Kardashian, a release is sure to attract media attention.

Technology releases get better mileage if they feature words like “cost breakthrough,” “faster,” “more efficient,” “breakthrough,” and “higher capacity.”

Being topical will increase the chances of getting a run. If something big is in the news, a media release that works off the hot topic is likely to get picked up.

How to write strong headlines for your media release

The presentation and typography of words in a headline are one factor in the effectiveness of these words with readers. For example, some fonts are much more legible than others. But obviously the key factor is the message conveyed by the words. For information on core techniques for media release success, you can read my article on the topic: “Simple techniques for writing strong headlines.” Also, you can read my helpful article on the “10 ways to ensure an effective media release.”

Words and phrases to avoid

Avoid clichés like the plague! Words like “solutions,” “leading,” “leading edge,” “state of the art,” “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” world renowned,” “turnkey,” and, even if I dare say it myself, “cutting edge,” disappear into the proverbial waste paper basket. [“Cutting Edge PR” was not my first choice for this website name, but all the best names had been taken – and that was 15 years ago!]

The New York Times recently published an article wondering how a certain PR pitch and news conference successfully prompted media coverage. The media release headline was: “Toxic Ties to ‘New Shower Curtain Smell’ Evident, According to Latest Laboratory Testing.” The release certainly sounded dodgy, as do many media release headlines.

A visit to always provides instructive material on what to avoid. PR Newswire runs a busy service publishing media releases from subscribers on its website. Many media outlets monitor it and run some of its material.

At one stage I visited the website and almost gagged at some of the rubbish being foisted on the world. Some of it is just plain awful! No wonder many media types throw scorn at the PR profession. On PR Newswire’s “Latest Video News” section this week, five out of the first nine media release headlines were (reproduced exactly as shown):


Baskin-Robbins Serves Up Free Soft Serve for Moms-To-Be to Celebrate the Launch of the New Frozen Treat!

Fastest Pizza Makers From Around the World Compete For Title Of ‘World’s Fastest Pizza Maker’

First Press Briefing in the United States Ever To Be Held 180 Feet Above Las Vegas At The Internet Café in The Sky

Valley Of The Sun And Big Apple Heat Up Seventh Annual Old Spice Sweatiest Cities Rankings

So there you have it: the good, the bad and the sweatiest!

About Kim Harrison – author, editor and content curator

Kim Harrison, Founder and Principal of Cutting Edge PR, loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in his books available from

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