Thursday, June 8, 2023

Headlines and Hierarchies.

I had a talk with GeorgeCo's account manager the other day. I'll call her "H" for purposes of anonymity. And because I'm a shitty speller.

H said, "I didn't think much of that brief. Did you?"

H and I have known each other since the 90s. I hired her because she pulls no punches and is never afraid to be blunt.

"I got what I needed from it," I answered.

The brief was one of those multi-page PowerPoint rigamaroles. They seem to try to use excessive length to compensate for their essential emptiness.

"What do you mean you got what you needed?"

"I found a bit I liked and I wrote I headline or two around that bit. And I liked the lines I wrote and I think they'll do well for the client."

I'm a dinosaur, I know.

I believe in headlines.

I've made myself good at finding them in briefs, in conversations. I've made myself good at writing them myself. I've made myself good at using them to promote my own business.

But there's a point in this beyond me bragging about what's become in so many precincts and in so many agencies, an obsolete skill.

Headlines make sense.

We're all too busy. There's too much information in the world, too much noisy, too many people and brands who want our attention.

Headlines help.

Good ones bring what's sexy about a brand or a product to the front of the line. Good ones make people smile. They build trust. They pique a reader's interest so they read on.

They also provide hierarchy in a hierarchy-less world. A world where everyone and everything is shouting at once, where web design has all the fearful symmetry of a Jackson Pollock mural, where few ads are differentiated and even fewer make an actual credible promise of something people actually want, headlines  guide you, organize information for you, stop you and inform you.

Headlines give you something to focus on. 

They establish the hierarchy that good communications rely on.

We've forgotten or chosen to ignore how important they are. In decks, in conversation, in TV titles, in banner ads, in "content," in print.

Headlines can AIDA your communication.

Get Attention.
Generate Interest.
Gin-up Desire.
Gain Action.

If you're in the communications business, that's the point. To make a point.

Thanks, H.


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