Who Could Refudiate a Good Headline?

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    Press Releases, Tweets — even, or especially, email subject lines — demand strong, catchy headlines. Imagine the volume of words that cross an editor’s or reporter’s eyes each hour! Guess which subjects they will be drawn to? Those that creatively thread the needle of journalism are the ones that will get sewn into the fabric of a feature story or news item. And that thread is your header.

    A quick search of the past week’s headlines is instructive. This week the New Oxford American Dictionary named its word of the year Refudiate. And you have to admit that it’s a pretty “nifty” word, as Sarah Palin might say. In fact, it’s Alaska’s Governor Quit who coined the term. She’s got to feel pretty darn good about it, too, the designation from the Oxford Word wonks coming in the same seven days that her reality show about Alaska — but mostly about her and her overexposed family and her simplistic political views — is breaking viewing records on TLC cable, such as they are. I have to admit, a sneak peek I stole the other night for 15 minutes revealed unusually high production values and tons of beauty shots of the inspiring scenery of the distant state where you can see Russia.

    You can repudiate her politics all you want. But SP remains a headline grabber, despite the fact that she’s making fishing boatloads of money doing all this stuff in the guise of being some Teabag politico that believes she’s qualified for higher office.

    Make Your Reporter Connection

    Rather than dial up her BoobTube brand of Paleontology online, I urge you instead to consider the power of good headline grabbers at another place. It comes this week from “Bill and Steve Harrison’s Reporter Connection” (if you haven’t joined yet, you should. It hooks up reporters with sources like HARO does. Join here:


    Harrison writes, “Long before Diane Sawyer became the anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight, she did an interview in which she spoke about what kind of stories producers love, and what makes a great headline. For example, Sawyer talks about how this sentence: ‘This is a committee meeting which is very important politically,’ becomes more compelling when re-written as ‘This is a political time bomb – disguised as another government meeting.’ Take a quick read of this brief interview for other interesting nuggets.”

    The power of the headline….Send me a few you’re proud of and I’ll post them. I promise I will not publically or biologically repudiate any of them.


    For more resources, see the Library topic Public and Media Relations.


    Martin Keller runs Media Savant Communications Co., a Public Relations and Media Communications consulting company based in the Twin Cities. Keller has helped move client stories to media that includes The New York Times, Larry King, The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, plus many other magazines, newspapers, trade journals and other media outlets. Contact him at kelmart@aol.com, or 612-729-8585