You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In PR, that first impression is your “hook” otherwise known as the headline. If you can’t reel a journalist in with that initial sentence, they probably aren’t going to read any further.

People have often told me this is actually a science and once you learn it, you’ll be well on your way to PR success. Here are some tips to help you become an expert at the Art of the Hook.

What are some ways to lure the journalist in and have them begging for more?

1) Cause Controversy

“Why College is the Single Worst Investment a Parent Can Make!”

This hook was used by a colleague of mine and got noticed by FOX in Chicago and he was asked on to do a segment.

As the parent of two teenagers thinking about college, this got my attention and certainly the producer realized it’s impact on their audience. Wouldn’t you watch this?

2) What’s Timely?

Right after Halloween, I saw a segment on my local CBS affiliate with a dentist sharing which Halloween candy was better for your kids to eat. If I had seen that when my kids were younger, I certainly would have wanted to know and foraged through their bags and gotten rid of the “bad” candy.

Another great timely segment I saw was on the Today Show over the holidays. It was with a nutritionist about Christmas shopping and what were the best food choices to make when you’re at the food court. They talked about all the popular mall jaunts and the nutritional stats of all of our favorite mall food. In case you were wondering and much to my chagrin, a big slice of Sbarro pizza was not at the top of the healthy list.

3) Using Tips/Lists/Numbers

Look at any newspaper, national publication, or listen to your local news program going to commercial break, they often use tips or numbers to lure you in. “Coming Up Next: How Eating Chocolate Everyday Can Actually Help You Lose Weight.” I would certainly stay-tuned to hear about that.

These are actual headlines from magazines:

  • 10 Ideas to Make You a Better Leader
  • 3 New & Natural Cold Cures
  • 15 Power Foods Smart Doctors East (and Love)
  • 6 Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
  • 50 People Who Will Make Your Life Better

You get it, right? Offer the best tips, the worst of, or a certain number of pieces of advice. Make it a captivating headline the journalist or publication can actually use. You’re making their job easier by putting the entire story together for them from the hook to the copy. Two of my best hooks: “Warning! Kids Will Want to Break Their Foot for This New Product” and “Skiers Fear This Most… and it’s Not an Avalanche.”

I’d love to hear any great hooks you’ve used and if you want any help with creating yours, check out Art of the Hook HERE.

To Your PR Success,