Instead, let's focus on what makes for a great headline. I think it's fertile ground for a PR and marketing-focused blog because, frankly, most PR professionals (and many PR bloggers) are god-awful headline writers.
The typical PR headline suffers from one of two maladies:
– It's mundane or obvious (i.e. “Why Media Relations Still Matters”. Ugh. Must we revisit that time worn subject one more time?)
– It's ponderous and/or unfathomable (i.e. “Farnsworth Industries, Inc.’s. new, state-of-the-art, first-of-its-kind QX-101 microprocessor chip is not only designed to interface with standard industry circuit boards but, at 0.002 milligrams, is the lightest ever made!” I'd rather shove a fork in my ear than read that press release).
I think the editors of the New York Post and Daily News are the true Michelangelos of headline writing. They've made it an art form. They not only capture the big news of the day in a word or two but, invariably do so as a double entendre. Case in point: the recent Long Island pharmacy slaying of four people by a whack job in search of Vicodin. The post headline? 'Pain Killers.' That's simply superb.
I have other, all-time favorite headlines from the Post and Daily News. I'll never forget the ones the dailies ran on the day after the New York Mets upset the Baltimore Orioles and won the 1969 World Series:
– The Post: 'Amazing!' (The once hapless Mets had been nicknamed 'The Amazins' by Casey Stengel. And, their huge upset was nothing short of amazing. Zing. In one word, the editor simultaneously communicates the Mets victory, uses the team's nickname to announce it and underscores how incredible the whole thing was).
– The Daily News: 'Bye-bye Birdies' (This was a rare triple entendre that told the reader who'd won, leveraged the aviary roots of the losing team's nickname AND riffed on a Tony-award winning play's name. Positively brilliant).
What about you? Do you have favorite headlines you'd like to share? Or, how about examples of all-time horror shows? (i.e. We once represented an education software company whose PR representative insisted on crafting a personnel announcement that made the new general manager sound like a combination of Buddha, Allah and Christ. It was so laughably bad that it negated any chance of actual coverage.)
So, bring it on. Send me a headline that will stop me in my tracks and immediately communicate the gist of the story to follow. Or, send me something that is an absolute steaming pile of sh*t. And, keep your hands off Lindsay Lohan. She's mine.