Writing, Writing Advice

How Article Headlines Attract and Mislead Readers

I have written in the past about the importance of headlines for articles or blog posts because they influence whether someone will go beyond the headline to read the full piece.   In 2014, in a perceptive article in The New Yorker, psychologist and writer Maria Konnikova said, A headline changes the way people read an article and the way they remember it. The headline frames the rest of the experience. A headline can tell you what kind of article you’re about to read . . . and it sets the tone for what follows. Psychologists have long known that first impressions really do matter — what we see, hear, feel, or experience in our first encounter with something colors how we process the rest of it. Articles are no exception.  Journalists know headlines are intended to serve several purposes. They help the reader decide quickly whether she is interested enough in the story to read it. They deliver…

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Related posts
How to Write a Headline That Captures A Reader’s Attention
October 19, 2016
Media Relations, Media Strategy

How to Maximize PR for your Lawsuit

Journalists, virtually without exception, enjoy writing about lawsuits. There are any number of reasons: Lawsuits by their nature involve conflict, and the media likes to write about conflict because readers like to read about it. Lawsuits involve two sides, and it’s always interesting to present a set of facts in two different ways and let the reader choose. Also, lawsuits almost always trigger a news event mostly because of who is involved, especially if it involves a high profile celebrity or public company. That means when an attorney plans to file a lawsuit, it’s advisable to seek counsel from a PR professional to maximize media exposure of the case. Here are five guidelines for doing so. Make sure your client wants media coverage. It is not advisable to file a complaint that your client doesn’t want to discuss with the media or doesn’t want you to discuss with the media. It may…

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Media Strategy, Writing Advice

Does Your Complaint Tell the Whole Story?

One of my favorite PR assignments is to promote a complaint that a lawyer has just filed in court on behalf of a client. A complaint is the way that most litigation is kicked off in both federal and state courts and a major point of interest for the media. In the law, a civil complaint is a written document that contains the allegations against the defendants, the specific laws allegedly violated, the facts that led to the dispute, and any demands made by the plaintiff. Any lawyer’s first obligation is to the client, so a complaint needs to present the client’s case in as effective a way as possible. But too often I read complaints that put me to sleep. Ones that leave me confused. They can be repetitive and full of legalese, avoiding any possibility of selling a compelling story that would have a strong impact on the audience, including a reporter who has no background in the…

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Writing, Writing Advice

Storytelling for Impactful Communication

Back in 2016, I wrote a post hereabout the importance of storytelling. “Facts are boring. Stories are compelling,” I said. I explained briefly that public relations professionals succeed when they can develop a compelling story with a clear beginning, middle and end. Stories are ultimately about people, and reporters know that the human angle engages readers and brings them in. A few days ago, my friend John Buchanan, senior communications manager at the law firm Sheppard Mullin, published an article in Marketing the Law Firm magazine that starts with these points and develops them further and more deeply. John goes beyond PR and press releases, emphasizing that all types of law firm content, all types of marketing materials, should depend on storytelling to capture an audience. Drawing on psychological and anthropological research, John wrote, “Storytelling is as old as humankind itself. Since the beginning of time, people have told stories and it seems…

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Related posts
Facts are boring. Stories are Compelling.
February 22, 2016