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Webinar: How to Write Headlines for the Web

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Webinar: How to Write Headlines for the Web

  1. 1. How To WriteHeadlines For The WebOctober 2012
  2. 2. Headlines Are MoreImportant Than Ever 2
  3. 3. Headlines Are More Important Than Ever1. It’s promotion for your story Your headline is the only representation your story gets on the web 3
  4. 4. Headlines Are More Important Than Ever2. It will make or break your story You’re killing your own story with a dud headline 4
  5. 5. Headlines Are More Important Than Ever3. Humans will decide the fate of your story Making headlines SEO- friendly is no longer good enough 5
  6. 6. Headlines Are More Important Than Ever4. Social is growing Which means competition and opportunity for audience is growing 6
  7. 7. Headlines Are More Important Than Ever5. Home pages are less important Which means you have to make your headline perfect everywhere 7
  8. 8. How To WriteHeadlines For The Web 8
  9. 9. The Sooner The Better• Try not to wait until the end of the content creation process to come up with a headline.• Early on in the process, think about ideas for your headline.• Thinking of your headline up front creates a thesis under which to frame your story.• Ask yourself this constantly: What is this story about? 9
  10. 10. Open A Blank Document• Start free associating around what your headline could be.• What are the key words that tell you what this story is about?• Who are the important players in the story? Consider them for your headline.• Are there any quotes or nuggets that help tell the story? They will make your life easier. 10
  11. 11. Provide the Facts for Breaking News • In breaking news or live situations, keep it simple and to-the-point.• Include lots of facts, names and numbers 11
  12. 12. Look For Big Numbers• Is a number one of the • Look especially for big key components of the numbers. Web users love story? big numbers. 12
  13. 13. Look For Big Numbers• Is a number one of the • Look especially for big key components of the numbers. Web users love story? big numbers. Medical Software Giant Plans $190M Project in KCK 13
  14. 14. It Should Be Easily Digestible• You have very little time to promote your story.• Make it easy for people to understand what you have for them. 14
  15. 15. Follow the Proper Noun Rule• “Name the known, omit the obscure”• If the subject in your headline is well known to your primary audience, you can include it.• But if the name is obscure, you might consider skipping it. 15
  16. 16. Does It Work As An Explanatory Headline?“When remotely possible, turn news into explanation.” --Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton• Hard news requires a hard news headline. But if you can find a way to turn a headline into an explainer, you can distinguish yourself from the crowd. 16
  17. 17. It Should Be Specific, It Should Promise 17
  18. 18. It Should Be Specific, It Should Promise Kansas: Then and Now 18
  19. 19. It Should Be Specific, It Should Promise• What is the story that you are delivering?• Tease the information – let them know basically what they’re getting but don’t give it all away. 19
  20. 20. Make It ActivePassive banner headlines with decks work well on thefront page of newspapers and home pages, buttypically not on article pages. 20
  21. 21. Make It ActivePassive banner headlines with decks work well on thefront page of newspapers and home pages, buttypically not on article pages. 21
  22. 22. Remember Who You’re Trying To Reach• Think you have a good headline? Say it to yourself. Do you sound like a human?• Remember: Humans will be the ones seeing this. 22
  23. 23. Think About Your Headline Out Of Context • Although some will see your headline on your home page, most will see it in other places. • Imagine it in a vacuum – search, social and anywhere else it might wind up. • Would you feel compelled to click it, like it or share it? 23
  24. 24. Include Labels • People like to know what they are getting. 24
  25. 25. Include Labels • People like to know what they are getting. • If the main component of your story is a video, photo, map or chart, let people know in the headline. 25
  26. 26. Include Labels • People like to know what they are getting. • If the main component of your story is a video, photo, map or chart, let people know in the headline. 26
  27. 27. Make Sure It’s Accurate• Sometimes a clever or fun headline can get away from the accuracy of the story. 27
  28. 28. Drop Unnecessary words• After you’ve written a headline you’re happy with, look at it, find unnecessary words and get rid of them. 28
  29. 29. ARE YOU STUCK? 29
  30. 30. Step Away From It• Stepping away from a headline for a few minutes can help clear your head. 30
  31. 31. Talk About It• Find a colleague or two and talk about your headline.• Fresh eyes and minds can often come up with the best headlines. 31
  32. 32. Don’t Forget The Blank Document 32
  33. 33. Let’s Make A Headline --WBEZ 33
  34. 34. Let’s Make A Headline --WBEZ 34
  35. 35. Let’s Make A Headline --KPLU 35
  36. 36. Let’s Make A Headline --KPLU 36
  37. 37. WHAT ABOUT GOOGLE? 37
  38. 38. Search Engine Optimization • Google mimics user behavior, crawling your text, looking at your headline first. • Make sure you include key details in your headlines. 38
  39. 39. How Does Google Work? • Timely, fresh content. • Text, text, text – in a visual framework. • Relevant proper nouns. • Linking out to quality sources. • Being a credible established source of news. 39
  40. 40. Ask Yourself1. Does it promise me something specific?2. Would I Like, Share, Tweet or Comment on it?3. Is it accurate?4. Is it active?5. Are important players reflected? www.bit.ly/headlinelist6. Is the main point of your story reflected?7. Does it obey the proper noun rule?8. Is it easily digestible?9. Are there any unnecessary words? 40
  41. 41. Questions?eathas@npr.org 41
  42. 42. Your Assignment1. Select three stories you’ve created.2. Write five different headlines for each story.3. Highlight the best headline with an asterisk.4. E-mail it to dseditorial@npr.org and include your station in the Subject by end of day Thursday. eathas@npr.org 42

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