How to Write a Great Headline

Campaigner with sign

Are you a union organizer interested in creating a banner to bring attention to a labor dispute? Perhaps you just want to create a leaflet that grabs people’s attention. Maybe you’re interested in producing buttons because you want people to get involved in an issue. Are you focused enough on your headline to get people to act? We’ll cover everything you need to create a headline that gets read, and leaves a lasting impression.

You know you need a great headline. You’ll probably only get one chance to make an impression, so you need to take your best shot. If your headline sucks no one will bother to find out more about the issue. A headline with too many words won’t get read and one with too much information will lack intensity. A great headline should push the reader’s buttons, create a sense of urgency, and compel them to act.

Try these techniques to help you create a great headline

  • Choose the best words – Pick three or four words that describe the topic. Place the words in different order.
    Example #1: Smith Cheated Acme Investors Example
    Example #2: Acme Investors Cheated by Smith Example
    Example #3: Investors in Acme Cheated by Smith
  • Keep it short – A headline should be brief and to the point. Limit the message to seven words or less.
    Good Example: Acme Refuses to Bargain
    Bad Example: Acme Construction Refuses to Bargain in Good Faith
  • Keep it simple – Don’t confuse the reader with too much info.
    Good Example: John Smith Abuses Workers
    Bad Example: Night Shift Supervisor John Smith Abusive to Female Employees
  • Push Their Buttons – Try to get a gut response.
    Example #1: Acme Development Inc. Harms Kids
    Example #2: Acme Development Inc. Bad Neighbors
    Example #3: Acme Development Inc. Cheats Seniors
  • Create urgency –You need the reader to act immediately
    Example #1: Stop Construction Now! Call 555-5555
    Example #2: Stop Construction! Call Mayor Smith Today
    Example #3: Stop Construction Before it’s too Late!
  • Spark Curiosity – Ask a question to get a response
    Example #1: What’s Wrong at Acme Canning?
    Example #2: Does Acme Make You Sick?
    Example #3: What Stinks at Acme Canning?

Using the above techniques, here are 3 steps to writing a great headline;

  1. Write Three Headlines – Select the one you like the most
  2. Sleep on it – Come back and look at your work in the morning
  3. Get a Second Opinion – Ask a trusted friend or coworker for their input

If you used these ideas to create your headline you can be confident you will grab people’s attention and motivate them to action. You won’t confuse people with too much information. You may even spark their curiosity to seek more information about your cause. You’re ready to take it to the street. So get out there and create change.

Bob Oedy helps union organizers succeed in the construction industry by providing solutions to dramatically increase their level of performance and productivity without burning out. For free information on how you can recruit more members, sign contractors and gain jobs for your union go to =>