With people already awash in information, getting them to read what you want them to know is tougher than ever. One important way to cut through clutter is to write an engaging headline. But first, you must decide precisely what your story is about—and that means choosing an angle.
An angle offers a specific perspective on a topic. It frames who-what-where-when information in a way that answers the all-important question “why?”—as in, “Why would anyone want to read this story?” A clearly defined angle makes it easy for readers to determine if the content relates to them. It also makes articles and blog posts more readable and helps ensure that people will take away the point you want to make.
Honing your angle is the first step in writing content for any platform, whether digital or print. The following steps can help determine your slant.
Conduct content research
Suppose you’ve been asked to create content for the breast center at your hospital. Start your content planning by searching online for general articles on breast health. You’ll get a sense of the topic’s breadth and how it might be broken out into subtopics. You’ll also see angles that others have taken—useful for inspiration, but also for when you want to ensure your content stands out by taking an approach your audience hasn’t seen multiple times before.
Narrow your focus
Articles are like swimming pools on sweltering days: People want to dive in, but not if the water’s too shallow. Similarly, readers who dive into an article are hoping to be refreshed. They want to learn something new or be entertained. If the angle of your story is too broad, your information will be shallow and your readers disappointed. Instead, take a deeper dive and show them something interesting and new about one slice of a broad topic.
For example, to promote your physical therapy department, instead of covering all its services, focus more narrowly on how PT addresses a specific problem, such as pain from plantar fasciitis. Describing how a service line or department can resolve one issue conveys to readers that you offer solutions and high-quality care for other issues, too. Another benefit of sticking to a narrow focus? Instead of winding up with one article about a service line, you’ll easily come up with ideas for multiple posts allowing you more marketing opportunities.
Ask what readers want
A good angle is often less about what you want to say than what people want to know. You may need to let people know about expanded cardiology services, but most readers care more about how that expansion will affect them. How will readers know if they’re candidates for treatment? What questions might they ask about surgery? Do new technologies or techniques make treatment and recovery easier? What problems are you solving? Work the details about your cardiology expansion into a reader-centric concept.
Supplement with sidebars
Plan to tuck details about particular services or initiatives into boxes separate from the main article. This allows you to visually highlight and expand on important aspects of the topic and avoid bogging down the main story. For example, if your goal is to call attention to a new orthopedic facility, the angle might be a patient story about a knee replacement—but a box can call out key information about the new site.
Offer personal stories
The best way to tell readers about a great service or doctor may be to let someone else talk. Find a patient who had a successful experience and can speak about the service or physician in a way that offers readers more emotion and interest than would a straightforward summary of the facts. As patients tell their stories, readers will glean for themselves the benefits of seeking care at your organization.
Think in lists
Lists give readers information in a format that’s easy to scan and digest quickly. Here, it’s helpful to try thinking first of a headline that includes a number to jump-start the angle-honing process. If you’re looking to promote a new primary care practice, for example, writing about “8 Great Reasons to See a Primary Care Physician” will educate patients while allowing you to introduce the new physicians and position them as experts.
Great: You’ve narrowed the topic from, say, cardiology to cholesterol management. But cholesterol is a familiar topic. Try to sharpen your focus further by presenting information in a new or unexpected way. For example, an article titled “What You Don’t Know About Cholesterol” can offer a fresh take while still covering the basic facts you want readers to know.