How Images Work with Headlines

Posted By on September 4, 2013

Take it from me, an advertising creative director of more years than I like to count: if you’re spending all your time crafting your prose and ignoring the pictures that go with them, you’re wasting an opportunity to hook and engage the reader. In this short video, I address how images work with and augment headlines.

A great post from, below, demonstrates my main point which is that communications work better if the reader is asked to combine the image and headline so that they can come up with their own answer.

A blogger’s job is to choose images that make the reader lean in before clicking off to some other site.

Horse illustration overlaid with meat parts

See how the illustration of meat parts applied to a horse (!!) requires the reader to engage and interact with the headline? This Gawker post forces you to decide if you want to know more about eating horse (even though the horse tells you, “neigh.”)


Cynthia Hartwig

And for all you people who would rather read the text of the video, here’s a handy transcript.

(Yet another demonstration of how Two Pens writes with an understanding of our audiences.)

CYNTHIA HARTWIG ON CAMERA: “You might be surprised to know that headlines are actually lazy. A lot of times they lie lank and listless if they don’t have an interesting visual. So take it from me, I’m an old time advertising creative director, you can save almost any headline with a great image.

“If you select an interesting photo, an image, an illustration that adds information to the headline and doesn’t just repeat it, they’re going to work together and they’re going to work together well. So if the reader puts together the headline and this interesting image that you’ve chosen, all the better.

“Look at the way that and use headlines and visuals together if you want some really good headlines and good role models.”