5 tips for totally awesome titles

I’m preparing my materials for the Pitch Perfect workshop at the Children’s Media Conference (CMC) on July 5 in Sheffield. The CMC is a great event where anyone who’s anyone in the children’s space in the UK will be.

The Pitch Perfect workshop is a four-hour session where experts like John Lomas-Bullivant, Curtis Jobling, Disney’s Orion Ross and myself will open the vault on the highs and lows of pitching. Participants then have a golden opportunity to receive feedback and improve their pitches.

Ahead of the workshop I talked to Justine Bannister, who’s producing the session, and show runner Mellie Buse about the importance of titles and taglines. The view was if you can get a great title, SNAP! Your pitching problem is sorted.

Great titles are worth their weight in gold. There’s no doubt about that. Titles like Jaws spring to mind or Breaking Bad or Pretty Little Liars. When I produced documentaries there was usually a phrase someone used during an interview that became the content title. Using someone else’s brain is always a good idea for that catchy phrase. Or you can use title generators to mine the research done on the most popular titles.

Here are five tips for anyone struggling to come up with a perfect showstopping title.

1. Brainstorm ideas and get others to help you

As they say, two heads are better than one. Write down every word that comes to mind about your story using a mind map. What are the key words in your quest for aligning with your story?

2. Study titles in your genre

There’s no mistake about My Little Pony, The Worst Witch or Grandpa in My Pocket. These are all evocative children’s titles. Notice they are all short and descriptive.

3. Make the title easy to remember

Familiar phrases are good like Gone With the Wind and Heaven Can Wait. Or place names like Downton Abbey, Silicon Valley, Happy Valley (a bit of irony there) or titles like Gray’s Anatomy based on the medical dictionary.

4. Numbers work

Titles like 10 Things I Hate about You. Threes are also popular: Three Musketeers, Three Stooges and Three Men and a Baby.

5. Use strong, vivid language

There are certain words which make good title descriptors like secrets, lies, strange and incredible. Think Doctor Strangelove, Secrets and Lies or The Incredibles. Those titles almost act like exclamation marks or question marks urging us to tune in to find out more.

I’d love you to come along to the Pitch Perfect session or, if you aren’t in the UK, you can download the first chapter of my ebook How to Win Your Next Creative Pitch free or download the entire online pitching course and ebook.

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