How many words should there be in a press release title?

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The title of a press release is the most important element of a press release. Why? Because it’s the most effective way to hook a busy reporter in hopes of gaining some serious publicity for your business or nonprofit.

Knowing how important a title is, it should not come as a surprise that it often takes as much or more time to create an effective title than any other part of the press release, including the body.

So how many words should you have in the title of your next press release?

Here are some of the factors to help determine the appropriate number:

  • Pound for pound: the title carries most of the weight of your release. A good title can communicate as much as 70% of your press release.
  • Set the hook: the effectiveness of your title allows you to hook a busy reporter or editor, getting you one step closer to the publicity you seek.
  • SEO: a press release title can help your search engine optimization goals, and the length of a title for search engine indexing purposes need only be 60 characters long.
  • Readability: a long title can certainly include more information but it may discourage readers from reading it, which is the goal of a title.
  • KISS: the general rule-of-thumb in coming up with a strong title is to keep it simple, with shorter words for the idea to get across quickly.
  • Action verbs: it’s always easier to eliminate fat by using action verbs, which are stronger at capturing a reader’s attention.
  • Technical jargon: try not to get too technical in your title if you plan to reach out to media professionals outside of niche trade journals.

So now that we have established some of the factors playing into how long a press release title should be, you are no doubt wondering what IS the ideal length of a title.

Funny thing is, there is no one right answer. I like to say that the ideal length of a press release title is the absolute fewest words it takes to communicate your core message.

As a rule of thumb, it’s better to keep your title to one line, which effectively limits it to fewer than 10-14 words, depending upon the number of characters in each word. Ideally, a title will not exceed 10-12 words and 80 characters with spaces. That does not always work, however, as some announcements are simply too hard to capture in so little space. Fear not, a long title will still work as long as you add enough hard-hitting content on that first line to hook the reader.

The point made above about how search engines index titles up to a maximum of 60 characters means that if you plan to use a keyword in the title – and you should – then you need to place the keyword inside the first 60 characters. Failing to do so would be to miss out on an effective way to improve your website’s search engine rankings.

Last Tip: When coming up with your ideal title, write up to five different versions of it to see which one does the best job in the least amount of space. Don’t forget to run it by your colleagues before deciding on a winner.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR & marketing agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

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