Dateline 3 July 2012 United Kingdom
Dave Lyons, director of independent publisher Raven Crest Books said today: “Given the growth in e-reading devices and the proliferation of major companies such as Amazon, Apple and Google driving the eBook revolution, we are seeing a rapid decline in the paperback market. Even the UK supermarket giant, Sainsbury’s has spotted the trend and are looking for a slice of the action.”
“We have seen high street booksellers struggle to compete with on-line sales and supermarkets and, of course, the lower price of eBooks. If the current trends continue, then by 2016, the paperback book will have gone the way of the vinyl record: it will become a niche market loved only by purists that love the look and feel of a “real” book.”
Well maybe this will be right and maybe it won’t.
The point I wanted to make was the power of the headline in grabbing attention and engaging the emotions sufficiently to read on. So while the headline may be seemingly outrageous, what follows is either a) a well reasoned argument discussing the headline, b) a very much softer non-news story or c) a powerful message behind the headline.
This morning, one of the news headlines was “Motorists should be stopped from driving above 55mph says Formula One ace Damon Hill”.
Now that’s attention grabbing. Damon Hill, who is not unknown for travelling pretty fast around motor racing circuits, is calling for people to drive at 15 MPH below the speed limit.
“What?!” you cry. “Is he off his trolley?”
But when you read on – as you must do as you’re hooked – you find that Damon is concerned about our fellow road users flying along at over eighty while tailgating, using their phones and texting. And he is scared for his children who without experience and equipped only with teenage hormones, must join the melee.
So we nod and sympathise – because we have children too. And while the headline message may be something that Damon believes will make a difference – or not, the point is that the main message is of concern to many of us and it is right that the headline draws us in so that we can hear that message.
Consider if the headline had been “Motorists should be stopped from driving above 65mph says retired shop worker”, we wouldn’t have read on. The “retired shop worker” is anonymous and we don’t know if we should care about his/her opinion. And a call to reduce by 5 MPH? Sorry – not interested – next?
So how can we incorporate the headline into our blogs, emails and press releases? Well here are some top tips for starters:
1) Attract attention;
Be a little outrageous and appeal to the emotions of your target market
2) Communicate a strong message or benefit
3) Appeal to the self-interest of the reader – ‘what’s in it for me?’
People are fundamentally selfish and only respond to your headline if they can relate to it
4) Select the right audience.
You have a target market don’t you? If you are Waterstones, you may not want to put out a headline like my one above that undermines your business. But if you’re selling eBooks, then that is exactly the right headline to run with.
It’s well worth looking at news stories like Damon’s to see how the experts put together a headline and compare that with the story content.