Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Headlines Must be Descriptive or You Lose Readers

My husband is stopping his subscription to Entrepreneur magazine. The main reason he gives is that when he reads the story headlines, he can’t tell what the story is going to be about. He’s a normal busy person. He doesn’t have time to solve mysteries just to read a magazine.

Here are some samples from the September 2007 issue:
• Tuned In
• Buh-Bye
• Come on, Defense!
• On the Rise
• All They Need
• So Long, Big Guys

Print magazines and newspapers can use images, photos and other design elements to draw readers into a story. But times have changed. In today’s world of RSS feeds and online news that link headlines to stories, cryptic and teaser headlines just don’t cut it.

I even find the puns in AdAge irritating. If I can’t tell in a few words what it’s going to be about, I’m gone.

You’d think Entrepreneur would have figured this out by now.

Here’s what the stories were about by the way:
• Tuned In: “alpha moms” (which I find is an offensive term)
• Buh-Bye: firing employees
• Come on, Defense!: securing your web site
• On the Rise: employment and salary growth
• All They Need: Blackberry users
• So Long, Big Guys: handbag designer


Kami Huyse said...

That is why 5 Tips and other such titles really work. I hate looking for an article you saw teased on the cover but can't figure out what it is inside. Being a magazine editor for many years, this is a big pet peeve of mine.

qotu said...

Good insights, thanks. Another great reason for descriptive blog post titles is SEO, or search engine optimization. Load up your blog post titles with juicy keywords and watch your traffic rise. :)

Susan Price

PRosh said...

Reading the headlines over that have been listed, remind of something a practitioner might put in the subject of an email pitching a media release. Please note that I used the word "media" instead of press. Although the press is still important, visual and web 2.0 is starting to have affects on how we communicate. I agree that times are changing and do to this the type of headlines we see are changing accordingly. Stories, much like advertisements, must break through the clutter that has been created by PR professionals. As a society we need to look into how individuals respond to what they see and read. As society becomes obsessed with visual elements and time constraints it looses the value once places on beautiful language. This is a society focused on quick entertainment, which could sadly make us shallow individuals.

I think your husband, and yourself, are just hitting the tip of the ice burg (cliche I know). I enjoyed reading and thinking about what was said in your entry.