Instead of employing a few clever words that point back to body copy, headlines should carry the messaging and bold attitude of the brand themselves. That is why we often use declarative statements as headers. So, instead of saying “Scholarships & Financial Aid,” which is descriptive and accurate, consider saying “That future that you want for yourself — for the world, is attainable.” The latter conveys that financial aid is available while tapping into a bigger aspirational drive in students.

Keep it overt

One debacle we often face in University Marketing is how overt to be with our words. The key thing to remember is that we may be inundated in our messaging, but our audiences are not. The old adage applies — it takes seven impressions to make a customer. So be BOLD! Don’t waste your headlines on dry, informational tidbits or cheesy soundbites that don’t convey the number one thing you want your audiences to know.

We’ve been practicing this principle on the OSU homepage:

  1. Oregon State is a top 1 percent university in the world. We teach big, we think big, and it shows.
    • Message: world-leading research expertise and academic teaching
  2. Wherever you come from, your story matters. Jeong-Bin Kim discovered a welcoming, diverse community a world away from South Korea.
    • Message: a sense of belonging in a community that values diversity and inclusion
  3. Your stage could be anywhere. Bard in the Quad is part of the vibrant arts tradition at Oregon State.
    • Message: an environment that encourages creative experimentation

Keep it intriguing

Our students and faculty are doing great things at Oregon State. Don’t be afraid to brag on them, in language that everyone understands. Ask yourself, would I want to click on this story or read this ad?

  • Welcome to astrophysist Davide Lazzati’s lab, where cosmic explosions and black holes are the center of inquiry.
  • Our ideas stand on their own. MEET CASSIE.
  • Setting a record makes us want to do one thing, break it.

Keep it short

Yes, it’s a challenge with statement-like headlines, but so important. Readers have short attention spans and are often looking at text on mobile devices. Spend a few extra minutes cutting words and tailoring the headline to the medium.

  • This is how we do HOME in Beaver Nation.
  • You won’t miss your mom’s cooking (much).
  • The state of Oregon is our campus.

Happy headlining!

In line with our welcoming and inclusive brand personality, avoid assumptions about gender in your writing. When writing about a specific person, ask them which pronouns they use for themselves (e.g., she/her/hershe/him/histhey/them/theirs). If a person does not identify with male or female pronouns, the plural they is preferred.

  • For example, “Samantha loves to paint. They take every painting class on campus.”

The plural they is also helpful when writing about a general person whose gender is not known instead of using the “he or she” construct or “s/he”. Though casual, this is Oregon State’s preferred style in marketing materials.

  • For example, “When a student moves into their residence hall, they should bring their own pillow.” When possible, pluralizing can help you avoid this construct: “Whenever students move into their residence halls, they should bring their own pillows.”

Beyond pronouns, avoid all gender stereotyping in your writing. For example, use firefighterpolice officerchair or chairperson. Use these rather than assuming gender in job titles.