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Top 20 Hook Writing Tips

 

1. Tie into Current Events in the Media:  Watch and read the news and see what they are talking about.  Find a way to put a unique spin on the story with your expertise.  When the Hudson River emergency plane landing happened, one of my clients was contacted by Fox News almost immediately because the media discovered his book about a similar crash in 1974 online.  Be aware of breaking events and contact media immediately if you can tie in to the story with a unique spin.

 

2. How To:  Everyone likes to learn new things.  Have your hook explain what the reader/viewer/listener will learn.  For example, Grab Em by the Nose Hairs!  How to Get and Keep Media’s Attention is the media hook I would use.

 

3. Top 10 (or any number):  Everyone knows about Dave and his famous Top Ten list.  How many times have you seen a magazine with a big hook on the cover reading, “Top 10 Things to Drive Your Man Wild” or “5 Best Belly Fat Busting Tips”?  In our society of too much information coming too fast, people like the most important facts filtered out for them and presented in an easy, quick list.

 

4. Create a Holiday: You can actually create your own official holidays.  Make one that ties into your theme.  Visit www.mhprofessional.com and register a date. If you don’t want to go through the process of creating your own holiday, there is probably already one that you can tie into your theme!  For example, just the month of October has all these holidays:

 

Child Health Day

Nuclear Medicine Week begins (Oct 5-11)

Portugal: Republic Day

United Nations: World Habitat Day

United Nations: World Teachers’ Day

Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month

Animal Safety and Protection Month, Natl

Antidepressant Death Awareness Month

Bake and Decorate Month, Natl

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Natl

Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month

Celiac Disease Awareness Month

Children's Magazine Month

Chili Month, Natl

Chiropractic Month, Natl

Church Library Month

Church Safety and Security Month

Class Reunion Month

Co-op Awareness Month

Crime Prevention Month, Natl

Cyber Security Awareness Month, Natl

Dental Hygiene Month, Natl

Depression Education and Awareness Month, Natl

Disability Employment Awareness Month, Natl

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Natl

Dyslexia Awareness Month

Eat Better, Eat Together Month

Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month

Emotional Wellness Month

Family Sexuality Education Month, Natl

"Gain the Inside Advantage" Month, Natl

Gay and Lesbian History Month

German-American Heritage Month

Global Diversity Awareness Month

Go Hog Wild--Eat Country Ham Month

Go on a Field Trip Month, Natl

Halloween Safety Month

Health Literacy Month

Liver Awareness Month, Natl

Long Term Care Planning Month

Medical Librarians Month, Natl

Month of Freethought

Organize Your Medical Information Month

Orthodontic Health Month, Natl

Photographer Appreciation Month

Physical Therapy Month, Natl

Polish-American Heritage Month

Popcorn Poppin' Month, Natl

Positive Attitude Month

Raptor Month

Reading Group Month, Natl

Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

Right-Brainers Rule Month

Roller Skating Month, Natl

RSV Awareness Month, Natl

Sarcastics Awareness Month, Natl

Self-Promotion Month

Spina Bifida Awareness Month, Natl

Spinach Lovers Month

Squirrel Awareness Month

Stamp Collecting Month, Natl

Starman Month, Intl

Strategic Planning Month, Intl

Talk about Prescriptions Month

Vegetarian Month

Women's Small Business Month

Work and Family Month, Natl

Workplace Politics Awareness

 

5. Play on Words: Most people enjoy a good pun.  If your last name is Wright, you can play on words by having your hook be “Learn to Fish the Wright Way!”  Find someway to play around with words so that it sticks in a reader/listener/viewer’s head.

 

6. Challenge: Everyone likes a challenge.  I remember listening to a local station that had a segment called Stump Stu or something similar.  The whole point was to call in and ask a question that the host could not answer.  If you can create a challenge that will get listeners/ viewers/ readers to participate, you have a successful hook.

 

7. Put Me to the Test: There are a lot of segments about an expert helping someone with a problem then that person talking about how much (or little) help it was.  Create a situation where you fix something, advise someone, teach someone etc.  Make it something that everyone’s talking about and which is easy to explain.  For example, a network show was working on a 90 day dating challenge where they followed around a middle aged woman as she tried to find someone worth dating in her city.  There was an expert who was put to the test to identify which potential males would make the cut.  Dating, finances, home design, phobias, and skills are all examples of areas that have potential.

 

8. Tie to a Celebrity: Actor Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s disease.  If your book or platform has anything to do with Parkinson’s, mentioning Michael J. Fox is a good big name to tie into.  I worked on a book for tweens dealing with global warming and tied the hook into Former Vice President and Environmentalist Al Gore since he is forefront in media’s mind regarding global warming topics.  Autism topics warrant a reference to Jenny McCarthy if you encourage holistic methods.  Figure out which celebrities talk about or deal with your subject and look for tie-ins.

 

9. Suggest Other People to Involve: It might seem counter-productive to suggest that a media contact use someone else but you are communicating to the media that you really want to help them find sources to the point of offering someone else.  This helps you get on the media contact’s good list and that will start coming to you when they need information about your topic.

 

10. Publicity Stunt: Remember when basketball star Dennis Rodman said he was getting married?  The media went into a frenzy that the NBA bad-boy was settling down with a mystery woman.  At the set date and time, Dennis walked out of a limo –wearing a wedding gown.  The whole thing was a publicity stunt.  You may not want something as sensational but announcing that you are unveiling something special and keeping what a secret can be an effective publicity stunt if it’s implied to help people with something they care about.

 

11. Involve the Audience: Producers love doing stunts that involve the audience.  If you can think of something that will get listeners calling in, viewers jumping off their couches, the audience in the studio up and moving and interested or readers responding, you have a concept that producers want.

 

12. Involve the Host: People love the hosts getting involved as well.  Think about the classic Johnny Carson shows where the guest is a zoo keeper with some animals and the animals end up all over Johnny.  Those are classic, loved shows.  How can you get the host involved?

 

13. Hazards to Avoid: Are you aware of a danger that most people don’t think twice about?  For example, if you are in the shoveling business and you discover that most people slip on ice because they forget to throw salt by the driver side door of the car, you can probably get some attention in the winter from media.  You can offer articles, interviews and tips.  If you know of something in your industry, contact media to warn their audience.

 

14. Talk about a Problem: There are problems that people talk about all the time.  For instance, Health Care Reform is a huge topic everywhere at the moment.  If you are informed and can talk about a problem intelligently, you can get interviews.

 

15. Trends: Media contacts like to report about something first.  If you notice a trend in society or your area, talk about it to the media.  For example, a huge trend right now is Social Media. Social Media is using online networking sites to meet new clients, make sales and grow your business. Customers want close personal access to you and Social Media is the modern way to cater to that need.  Social Media is a trend that most media outlets talk about.

 

16. Make-Over: Offer a make over.  If you have a service or product that helps people, offer to make someone over for free (which media can use as a contest or award making them look better).  The ongoing success of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is one example of the potential for success.

 

17. Time of Year: Do you have a book about Winter Time activities?  Your best bet is to pitch this topic in late fall to media.  When a season, date or holiday is coming up that relates to your book, contact as many media as possible as fast as possible before that season.

 

18. Controversial Issue: There are many controversial issues that people continue to talk about.  Abortion, race issues, politics, health care reform and religion are some basic ones.  In my industry, self publishing versus commercial publishing is a huge controversial issue that comes up often.

 

19. Promote Failure: Have you tried something 100 times and failed?  Then on the 101st time you got it?  People love inspirational stories about someone who tries and tries and tries and finally overcomes their trial.

 

20. Create a Great Name: Call yourself something that is catchy.  If you have seen Confessions of a Shopaholic, the main character calls herself the girl in the green scarf.  An author I worked with was one of the Dixie Divas.  If you have a fail proof way to win the lottery, call yourself the Payout King/Queen.  Use that name for yourself to create your platform and promote your title.

 

These ideas will get you started on creating amazing hooks that will capture hte attention of media and customers alike. Which is your favorite hook?

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