Writing a good hook

Writing a good hook

I mentioned this briefly in a post back in February – if you want to get the media’s attention you have to know how to write a good hook. Particularly now when most of them are underpaid and WAY overworked. (But not too crabby, which I find an interesting twist and maybe the topic of another blog post)

Look at the headlines and subheads in magazines as a starter. If your email has a starting sentence that the editor or reporter can see as a lead-in you’ve got them “hooked”. Then you hit them with all the background info. Keep it short, keep it relevant and keep it interesting. Humor is okay, but remember not everyone (especially busy journalists) get it. Give them something they can use – the biggest compliment I get is when a writer or TV reporter uses my hook as the lead-in for the eventual story.

Not surprisingly, companies often think that their strongest features and benefits are the best hooks. Maybe they have a great team or their clients saved a bunch of money. I get why these are important points but media doesn’t care. They want provocative, startling, even shocking hooks. One of my best pitches for a management consulting firm started with “Briefs or boxers – what kind of company do you run?” I must have gotten a dozen responses on that one.

Here are a few other hooks that have turned into actual editorial –

  • Telemarketing gets welfare moms off the dole more than any other industry
  • Happiness can be bad for your health, leading researchers say
  • Losing your job is more stressful than surviving a hurricane, according to psychologist

Kat Feete also has some great ideas for hooks. Send me your examples!

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