How To Write a Great Headline

how to write a headlineYour headline is the most important element of any article you write. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself what happened right before you clicked through to read this post. If you’re still reading this post, you’re either bored, very polite or you want to learn how to write a great headline and you believe I’m going to deliver on that promise for you. For me, the purpose of a great headline is to get the reader to read what you’ve written. For others, it’s all about the click. I’m going to assume that most Journalistics readers care more about the former.

So how do you write a great headline? I’ll get to that… but first, a quick story… In one of early journalism classes, our professor used to make us read all the headlines in The New York Times throughout the week. Why? Because The New York Times employed the most talented journalists. It was great advice honestly – it’s amazing how good some of those headlines are, and how instructive that exercise has been in teaching me the art of headline writing. I encourage you to try this exercise for yourself. For the next week, read the headlines of the print version of The New York Times’ front page. You’ll notice a couple of things. First, I’ll bet you find more than a few articles you want to read. Second, I’ll wager you learn a new word or two – those journalists have pretty incredible vocabularies. [Read more…]

What Led You to PR or Journalism?

how did you end up in pr or journalism?Time for some reminiscing. Think back (for some of you, think way, way back). What led you to PR or journalism? Did you know you wanted to work in PR or journalism before college, or did you discover the field later in life? If the latter, what did you do before?

If I’m asking you to share your story, it’s only fair I share mine. I wrote for my high school newspaper and loved it. I edited our class yearbook in high school and loved it. I even spent my free time at home working on an underground newspaper (much harder in the days of typewriters) – which I also loved. [Read more…]

Introducing ExpertEngine

Journalistics has launched a new service called ExpertEngine. ExpertEngine will help journalists (eventually) quickly (and anonymously) search for, find and contact experts for the stories they are working on. Before I give you the full scoop (and the sign-up info), here’s a quick story about why we – a blog about journalism and PR – decided to create ExpertEngine.

One of the best and worst things about working with start ups, particularly if you’re entrepreneurial like myself, is you inevitably find yourself wanting to do your own thing again. As some of you know, I majored in public relations and journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University. It’s one of the few colleges that combines instruction for journalism and PR – so since college, I’ve learned about both sides of the fence. I’ve always thought of starting a business related to PR/journalism – but not a service business like I did with my agency, but rather a product business.

Somewhere in the midst of Web 2.0, but before the social media craze, I started thinking to myself, “There has to be an idea I can take to market that PR people will love?” PR is hard work… how can I make it easier? What problem that hasn’t been solved yet? Surely there is an outdated or overpriced service that could be updated for the 2000s? I mean, what independent PR professional can afford $5K a year (at the time) for a media database? I ultimately settled on creating a FREE media database. You know, Vocus/Cision meets Wikipedia? If you ever read Wikinomics, you know there are plenty of examples of peer production and mass collaboration successes out there – I was sure it would work if I built it. I did start to build it, but then… [Read more…]

5 Ways Journalists Can Use Twitter

Social media and journalism are becoming more and more intertwined, and while the debate rages on if social media is a part of the journalism industry, Twitter, Facebook and the like shouldn’t just be reserved for the marketers and brand community managers out there. There’s an even greater potential for journalists to leverage the power of networking with Twitter, but before you sail into unchartered territories, you first need to know how to navigate the waters.

[Read more…]

Top 10 Journalistics Posts of 2010

The last Journalistics post of 2009 was the “Top 9 Posts of 2009.” It seems fitting that the last post of 2010 should be the Top 10 Posts of 2010, you know, keeping with tradition and all.

Before I get to the list, I’d like to thank all of you who read Journalistics on a regular basis. It’s been your ongoing support that has continued to motivate me to keep on blogging. Journalistics is here for you, the readers. If you have any suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover, or ways we can improve the blog, please let me know.

Without further delay, here’s the list of Top 10 blog posts from 2010: [Read more…]

Five Ws and One H: The Secret to Complete News Stories

If you ever sat through Journalism 101, you know all about the Five Ws and one H. For the rest of you, you may find this concept helpful when preparing interview questions or writing factual news stories. This concept may help you write better news releases too, considering they should contain news.

What are the Five Ws and One H? They are Who, What, Why, When, Where and How. Why are the Five Ws and One H important? Journalism purists will argue your story isn’t complete until you answer all six questions. It’s hard to argue this point, since missing any of these questions leaves a hole in your story. Even if you’re not reporting on the news of the day, this concept could be useful in many professional writing scenarios.

In case it’s not obvious what information you would be looking to gather from each of the six questions, let’s look at what information you might want to gather with the Five Ws and One H if you were reporting on The Three Little Pigs: [Read more…]

Journalists Using Social Media More for Story Research

Cision and Don Bates of The George Washington University recently conducted a national survey of reporters and editors to gauge their usage of social media sources when researching stories.

This is a topic I’ve written about in the past, related to a separate survey that found 70% of journalists use social media for reporting, but I thought it was a more current look at the data and an interesting counterpoint to my recent post about whether or not journalists are on board with social media.

The Cision survey found 89 percent of journalists turn to blogs for story research, 65 percent to social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, 61 percent to Wikipedia, and 52 percent to microblogging services such as Twitter. At first glance, it would appear as though the majority of reporters and editors are in face “on board” with social media. [Read more…]

Should Video Have Been Used in Olympics Tragedy?

There is a section of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics that deals with “Minimize Harm”. In this section, journalists can find suggestions to minimize the impact of certain types of coverage on the general public.

The reason for guidelines like this (I knew that Media Ethics course would come in handy) is to minimize harm that may be caused as a result of reporting news – such as protecting victims of crimes or minors, but also the use of compassion and sensitivity when dealing with certain subject matter.

It’s this section of The SPJ Code of Ethics that left me questioning the recent coverage of Nodar Kumaritashvili’s tragic death during a training run on The Whistler Track at the Winter Olympics this past Friday. [Read more…]

Are Journalists Really On-Board With Social Media?

It would seem that journalists have embraced social media wholeheartedly. There is no shortage of journalists on Twitter. Most journalists produce content for blogs and share links to their posts across social bookmarking sites, right? That’s what I thought too.

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I’ve had several conversations with marketing professionals that work with traditional print journalists (some of the biggest outlets you can think of). I was surprised to hear how many journalists on their staffs have yet to take the plunge.

On a related topic, I recently researched a media list, looking for the Twitter handles of a few dozen journalists I wanted to start following. I was surprised to find that only 1 in 10 of them had an active Twitter account. Granted, these weren’t mainstream journalists, but rather trade reporters and editors – but really, 1 in 10? [Read more…]

Top 9 Journalistics Posts of 2009

A popular blog meme for the end of the year is the “greatest hits” post. Since this is our first year with the Journalistics blog, we figured it was a great time to look at the posts you liked most in 2009 – partially for the reader feedback value, but also to introduce some of you who are new to the blog to some of our most popular posts of the year.

We wish all of you a Happy New Year, and hope you’ll continue to read Journalistics in 2010. Without further delay, here’s our list of the top 9 posts of 2009:

  1. Best Schools for Journalism
  2. A Look at How People Share Content on the Web
  3. 10 Reasons Media Relations Will Get Easier in 2010
  4. 70 Percent of Journalists Use Social Networks to Assist in Reporting
  5. How Do You Measure PR?
  6. Twitter Lists for Journalism and PR
  7. 91 Journalism Blogs and Websites You Will Love
  8. Stalking Journalists on Twitter
  9. Journalism 101: 16 Things You Learn In J School

We Want Your Help

Is there a journalism topic you would like to see us write about in 2010? Please suggest a topic through the Skribit suggestions box in the right column.

If you have a passion for journalism and PR, and are interested in being a guest author for us in 2010, please email us or contact us through Twitter.

Thanks for reading Journalistics!