Today’s readers are better described as skimmers and scanners; the story is the last thing and the least-read thing they read. Writing effective headlines, captions and blurbs must be an integral part of the writing and editing process — from the beginning, with everyone involved.
More about this seminar from Don Ranly:
“In this seminar, we’ll talk about what makes good headlines or titles and the techniques for creating them. We’ll discuss various kinds of heads — those strictly for news, those for features and those for advertising. What they all have in common is that they must grab readers. They must sell the copy. And EVERYONE must be involved in creating them. We will discuss the creative process that goes into coming up with the best heads.
“Blurbs, break-outs, pullquotes, whatever you choose to call them, grab attention. They stop readers and make them try to find other interesting things in the copy. We’ll discuss what kinds of things to put into blurbs and how to construct them.
“Captions are the most neglected element in most publications. Some photos go without any captions — which is inexcusable. People read captions, so they are a good place to deliver important information and to hook readers into reading the story. Other captions simply explain what’s going on in the photo. People can usually see that. We’ll discuss content of captions and their proper length, as well as typeface, etc. We’ll give you 10 rules for writing them.”
Underestimating the intelligence of your audience is just one of the 10 major mistakes to be reviewed in this teleseminar. Others include:
- The techniques and importance of brainstorming
- How and why to use literary and poetic techniques
- Four characteristics of brighter, more attractive heads
- How to write summary blurbs that give readers the benefit
- The power of the word “how”
- The importance of tips and of quantifying the benefits
- How to write internal blurbs that tease and coax
- How to write captions that complement and inform
Don Ranly, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of the Missouri School of Journalism, where he taught for 32 years. He has an M.A. in journalism, an M.A. in speech from Marquette University, a certificate in film, radio and television from New York University and a doctorate in journalism from the University of Missouri. Don has conducted more than 950 seminars for organizations, corporations, associations and publications. He is co-author of News Reporting and Writing (8th ed.), Telling the Story: The Convergence of Print, Broadcast and Online Media (2nd ed.) and Beyond the Inverted Pyramid and author of Publication Editing. In 1995, he received a University of Missouri-Columbia Faculty-Alumni Award and was named the O.O. McIntyre Distinguished Professor of Journalism for 1995-1996. In 1998, he won a University of Missouri Gold Chalk award for outstanding service in the training and mentoring of professional students. In 2002, he was elected a Fellow of the International Association of Business Communicators. In 2003, he became a William T. Kemper Fellow for Excellence in Teaching and, in 2005, won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Business Publications Editors. He currently serves as executive director of the Missouri Association of Publications, which he founded in 2004
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