Memorable headlines: I’M SORRY… SEND ME MONEY


Editors at newspapers spend a great deal of time and energy on writing headlines. And for good reason — headlines attract attention, and some live on decades after they are written. This is the seventh in a series of posts on memorable headlines.


THE PUBLICATION: The Huffington Post

THE STORY: In September 2009, Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, caused a commotion when he shouted “you lie!” as President Barack Obama spoke to Congress. The fallout included an apology and a fund-raising effort by Wilson and his Democratic opponent in the 2010 election.

ITS SIGNIFICANCE: This headline is more noteworthy for how it was done than what it said. The Huffington Post put out a call on Twitter, inviting readers to submit ideas for headlines for this story. Anyone on Twitter could offer a suggestion by using the hashtag #headlinehelp.

The winning submission was a hit because it generated about 100,000 clicks, according to HuffPo co-founder Arianna Huffington. She said that the site will continue to try “crowdsourcing” headlines on occasion.

Many readers seemed to like this approach to headline writing. “This is a good idea,” read one comment. “The headlines need improvement. I’d rather have a little snark than an overdramatized eye-grabber anytime.”

At least a few professional editors, however, may prefer “outsourcing” as the name for this practice. “How much are they paying?” asked Patrick LaForge, director of copy desks at The New York Times. Yes, he used Twitter and the hashtag to ask that question, which has apparently gone unanswered.


One Comment

  1. To find your perfect headline.

    Go to

    On the drop down tab, select: Books

    In the search box, write in there your subject of choice, for example…


    Look at the book titles on the first 2 pages of the results.

    Make a note of any repetitive words used in the book titles and the number of times these occur.

    Now, start writing your own headlines using these power words.

    Aim to write 100 headlines initially. The first 20 will be easy, after that, you might start to struggle a little bit. This is a very good exercise for you though.

    When you have 100 headlines (at least) in front of you, choose the best one to work for your sales copy and make a note of the other headlines you prefer, which come in as your alternative top choices.

    These other headlines, you can now adapt to use for your key benefit * bullet points.

    This top copywriting tip brought to you by…

    Mark Andrews

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