How to Write Powerful Headlines, Scoring IFA Websites, and What to Say with Your Hands

By Jim James,
Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

The Great Progress Shed webinar led by the team at Action Coach received a call from Brian Hill this morning. Brian Hill, who has just completed a Master’s of Science, is a multidisciplinary expert, financial planner, ski instructor, and lives in Italy. Hill specializes in body language and body language training, and he explained how body language communicates a vast amount of information people may be consciously unaware of. Over 60% of language is nonverbal, which means in PR, when writing press releases or doing something a person cannot see, how does one communicate the energy and personality of the client and founder of the product?

Body language in a digital era

Brian Hill suggests a “three-two-seven” rule. There are three red flags that can be seen by people, he states, with two channels available, such as the hands or eyes. The approximate time limit to register an emotional response is seven seconds, and after those seconds, people move onto their next response. Brian discussed how these various emotions are expressed through hands, eyes, and words via body language, and the hands give the most indication of what people are thinking. For instance, Boris Johnson had both of his hands on the table during his address, and it was possible to see that his fists were clenched, which conveyed feelings of anger and frustration. Brian mentioned the author Allan Pease, Australian body language expert, who, along with his spouse, Barbara Pease, have written over fifteen books on the subject. One of their books discusses how tribal members visually react to a video, where they slightly lift their foreheads in recognition. They smile with teeth and crow’s feet and engage in a type of handshake. 

On a Zoom call, the person appears on a small window with very little available to be seen. In this case, it can be argued that an external camera is valuable in how it can reveal more of the person you are trying to communicate with. Going forward with PR interviews, it may be necessary to ask our clients to sit further away from the computer until they are eye level. Because computers tend to be lower than eye level, it resembles an adult-child relationship in its point of view, which is poor body posture, and poor body language. What can we do to overcome this problematic webcam view? If appearing on camera, it is imperative to stand back a little further, make sure the area is well-lit, and, if possible, that hands can be seen within the screen.

What makes people want to visit a website

Brian Hill shared his dissertation which was on the impact of a website and the impression it can give people who are about to check out the company. The website, in a way, is a proxy for the human body and face, as what is seen on the website is the immediate surface credibility evaluation. Over three hundred people took the test to answer the question by having ten IFA (Independent Financial Advisory) firm websites analysed. The results interpreted that the colour, the simplicity, the symmetry, and the promo typicality made a difference in representing the company, and these characteristics impacted the impression of IFA’s worthiness, credibility, and expertise. So, what does your website say about you and your company on its first impression? 

David Ogilvy, advertising guru, wrote that five times as many people read the headline as the body copy. Therefore, when a headline is written, eighty cents has been spent of your advertising dollar. While there’s the tendency to put a great deal of content on a website, it could be that the headlines and the workflow or funnels are what make it impactful. Companies may sometimes delegate their tasks related to their website or their PR to a third party, believing it’s just a bit of text and a nice picture, but that isn’t always the case. What they don’t realise is that the website acts as a direct extension of the DNA of the company. If you have a website, does it truly represent you and your company? Does it represent the products? If someone were to visit that website, what impression would they be receiving? Does your website stand out or differentiate itself?

Writing catchy headlines and living with a ‘COVID’ mindset

Much like companies, the keywords on websites, in press releases or articles, and on videos, all need to solve a problem for someone. A helpful tip would be to write a headline that suggests a solution or how to do something that will help you do something else. The challenge is when sending an abundance of content, companies tend to repeating the “how.” As is already known, there’s the how, but also, there are the why, what, when, who, and where. Businesses solve problems for clients on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, either on a one-off transaction or a multiple repeating basis, and when reflecting that in writing, it is important to not only think of what you would like to say, but what is going to differentiate you.

With the coronavirus still prevalent in society, there has been a need to have our PR messages seen as Compassionate, Optimistic, Values-based, Informative, and Digital. As Brian Hill said, companies might give out red flags, and so this necessitates the need to understand how consumers view brands and their spokespersons based on their body language both as individuals and as companies representing core values. With the help of SPEAK|pr that means to Storify, Personalise, Engage, Amplify, and Know, make your company stand out and make it one that others will want to work and deal with.

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo by Fabian Irsara on Unsplash

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