Unless you’ve spent the last two weeks in an underground bunker, you would’ve been aware of the hubub surrounding the Daily Mail’s article on Ralph Miliband.
If nothing else, what this article showed (or the outrage it provoked) is the power of a strong headline – whether you agree with it or not is another matter. It certainly couldn’t be ignored.
I remember, when I was earning my stripes at Watford College, there was a paradox: the art of long copy was dying yet, because of this, the need for headlines to be bold and ‘punchy’ was greater than ever.
I loved the challenge of drawing people in with a good headline (and still do), enough that they’d want to continue into the rest of the copy and – the ultimate goal – all the way through to the endline/call to action.
Whilst I was supposed to be getting my head round viral ideas, three-frame TV ads, quick posters, I was looking backwards at the work of David Abbott, Julien Koenig, Tony Brignull.
Personally, I love these examples of good headlines, below:
I think a good headline is the key to most communication, whether inside or outside of advertising.
Think about it – for you to even bother reading a fraction of the cr*p that lands in your email inbox, the subject line has to be half decent.
If you’re single and meet someone attractive, you need a good opening line for the conversation to go beyond ‘hi’. Not only this, but your ‘headline’ has to avoid being cheesy or using a cliched chat up line: it has to original – a tough brief.
In a job interview you’re often asked questions which call for an initial answer, with detail to follow. It’s your initial answer – or ‘headline’ – that’ll make the rest of it worth listening to.
So, there you have it – headlines are key. However, this doesn’t always mean that an enticing headline will lead to something worthwhile…
As it’s the weekend, I’ll leave you on a cheery note, with some of my favourite magazine headlines from recent years: