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March 23, 2012
Heed the Importance of Headlines
Miller Public Relations in Dallas/Fort Worth posts a reminder on the importance of headlines in web browsing. They reference Jakob Nielsen on the scant attention web readers give to scanning web pages — on average, they read, at most, 28 percent of the words on a page. The headline needs to catch their attention accurately. There's no rustling newsprint there to help the reader peruse the scene. 

Miller has a prostate cancer center client and lists the Google Alerts assortment of headlines for a given cancer study — they range to diametric opposites for the same headline — from "Study finds PSA testing cuts prostate cancer deaths" in The Philadelphia Inquirer to "Prostate cancer screening isn't saving lives, study finds" in USA Today.

It then quotes Nielsen and notes, in what's actually an understatement, "Therefore, writers should give great care to their composition of a headline." Most of us probably think we do, but next time, pause and ask "Is this really making the point I intend? Eyes will be going speedily by."

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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