Inspiration Ripped from the Headlines: Using the Stories of Today to Find the Story of Tomorrow

media monitoring, writing headlines

Sometimes the creative spark that PR and other communications professionals are looking for can be found right in front of us. A case in point is the day’s headlines. What’s generating news today can unlock big ideas that garner the news coverage and buzz you seek for your future project.

Search for Ideas Behind the Headlines

In this collaborative approach, you begin by recruiting a few creative colleagues who can help you randomly scour headlines from various news sources. Choose, say, six headlines from Newsdesk that you find immediately captivating and leave something to the imagination. It’s best to stick to feature headlines versus hard news ones. You also want to select headlines that don’t pertain or relate to the nature of your project. If, for instance, your creative challenge is situated in the agricultural industry, you want to avoid any headlines dealing with farming.

Next, take your selected headlines one at a time and discuss the human interests, motivations and behaviors behind it. Sometimes these insights will inspire ideas that you can put to use.  Here’s an example to illustrate the approach and its possibilities:

Suppose your group selected this headline from CNN:  Dawns Says You’re Washing Your Dishes Wrong. The story is about how Dawn and other similar detergents were made for washing dishes in a conventional fashion (think sink full of plates, glasses and silverware sitting in sudsy, hot water). However, these days more people are instead doing dishes one-or-two-at-a-time. The Dawn brand created a new product that they say is better suited to and more appropriate for this newer take on dishwashing.

Even though your creative task has nothing to do with dishwashing (or so we assume), you and your colleagues would still discuss what human interests, motivations and behaviors lie behind this particular headline. In this case, one could argue that the headline sparks attention because it basically tells people they’re doing something incorrectly. Someone else could also suggest that the human dynamic behind the headline is that people have insecurities about falling behind the times and not being up on the latest trends.

Your group would then brainstorm creative ideas to publicize and promote your product, service or event in a manner that challenges conventional thinking or approaches. The group would pick another headline and repeat the process.

“Steal” a Headline

In this approach, you and your colleagues pick some of the day’s headlines, specifically those that are intriguing but a tad vague. For instance, “Olympians Will Sleep on These Unique Beds” or “How Mushrooms (And AI) are Helping the Poor in China.” You then assume that this is the headline for your project and think about what your creative solution would have to be to make it fit. The act of trying to force together two things that don’t, on the surface, seem to fit can unleash some really wild ideas. Yes, many of them will be wildly impractical, but you just may discover a gem of an idea that feels just right.

Write Some Crazy Headlines

In this case, you and your team members shout out deliberately crazy headlines that you make up on the spot that pertain to your project. For example, suppose that your creative challenge involves a business service old to work-from-home employees. Some of the crazy, no-holds-barred headlines shouted out could be things like: “Work from Home Employee Wrestles Cats on Her Break,” “Working from Home Makes People Smarter,” or “Home-Based Employees Make Better Lovers.”

No headline is too crazy. After you have a dozen or two, you then step back and see if there’s any inspiration to be found. In this case, the “Working from Home Makes People Smarter” headline may inspire you to consider doing a research study to confirm that working from home does indeed make people smarter, or somehow better, and then use that finding to gain real headlines for your brand.

Give one of these three methods a try. We think you’ll find that headlines can be rather inspiring. And, of course, you nowhere to look to find all the headlines anyone could ever need: Newsdesk.