When the Headline Screams Read This

“When the Headline Screams Read This”
By Michael Aaron Gallagher

This weekend I came across an old issue of Newsweek magazine (July 9, 2007), and when I was finished reading it, I thought about titling my next article, “Man and Woman in House on Sex Diet.” You’re probably wondering why. Well, it turns out that according to http://www.booksinprint.com/, for the hundred year period from 1906-2006, the words that most often appeared in the titles of best selling books were 1. Man, 2. Diet, 3. House, 4. Woman, and 5. Sex.

So if you want to grab your audience’s attention, the title may be the best place to start.

The importance of well chosen words cannot be understated. In marketing, a good slogan and tagline can mean the difference between a memorable ad campaign and a forgotten one. Even the very name of your company matters to clients, selection committees, and the news media. I am a firm believer that a name can work with you on your road to success or it can work against you.

For example, when investing in the stock market, I tend to eliminate potential investments in corporations with names that don’t sound reputable, because I am concerned that consumers will not show brand loyalty when a more legitimate and appealing alternative arrives on the market. I also question their ability to creatively develop a name that is both memorable and marketable. Ultimately, I evaluate their staying power in the industry. Does their name have the potential to last for decades and still have brand viability?

Similarly, I don’t buy from sellers on eBay or Half.com who have unusual or bizarre usernames, regardless of how well their rating as a seller may be. Even though it may give me a false sense of security, I naturally choose names that I believe are more trustworthy.

And perhaps most important, I don’t buy from companies when I can’t remember their name. I know it sounds obvious, but I can’t tell you how many companies lose my business because their marketing campaign failed to perform on several fundamental levels. I may have seen their television commercial, billboard, or print advertisement and at the time I was sold on the value of the product or service, but they didn’t provide me with an easy way to remember where to get it or who they were. As a result, their choice of words – or better stated, their choice of omission and lack of repetition, resulted in a lost sale.

On a recent episode of The Tyra Show, host Tyra Banks discussed the controversial assumptions people make about a person’s name and how those stereotypes influence their life and career. Of course there are a host of societal implications and underlying causes, as discussed in the book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. But it never ceases to amaze me how important names, phrases, and headlines are in determining our destiny.

So whether you write a blog, you are a best selling author, or you are deciding on the subject line for your email, the words you use often influence how the world sees you. Just make sure that once you’ve chosen your headline or your marketing slogan, you can back it up.

“When the Headline Screams Read This”
Copyright © 2008 by Michael Aaron Gallagher

To request permission to use excerpts from this blog or to quote on television or in print, please email publicity@manhattanpublicrelations.org.

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