We often assist in preparing articles and commentaries from fund portfolio managers for financial adviser audiences. From our experience, here are some thoughts on writing headlines (and email subject lines) that can speak to a group that’s constantly flooded with financial communications.

When writing headlines for content by portfolio managers, it helps to establish a slightly different tone than in general marketing materials. Try to put the adviser “in the room with the portfolio manager.” That’s the reading experience that makes this content impactful. Headlines and subject lines that emphasize the PM’s own perspective—as someone who must evaluate information and make firm decisions—can help the content feel real and of-the-moment rather than pre-packaged and stale.

Here are some specifics:

  1. Don’t be afraid to divide the house. Advisers buy into an investment process, not every investment view. Let the headline reflect a clear view of what that process says.
  2. Question the use of question marks. Rhetorical questions are powerful tools, but sometimes question marks make a headline sound watered-down, like the content following may be either uncertain or so hedged that it’s not worth reading.
  3. Find a news hook. Market commentaries often come with a built-in news hook, since they’re tied to current action. It’s often possible to accomplish the same with other types of content.
  4. Express a view…but keep it short. Okay, there’s no need to resort to words like “amid,” which one of my colleagues kindly struck from a rough-draft headline once. But still, look for ways to express a complete view in a few dozen characters. Send yourself the email and see what the subject line looks like in your mailbox.
  5. Use the PM’s name. If possible, present commentary as from one (or more) named PMs, rather than from the investment team in general. It implies the individual is willing to be connected to the opinion rather than hide in the anonymity of a team. Also, personal is powerful—and names help build brand equity.

The bottom line is to find ways to make the PM commentaries and articles feel different from regular marketing materials. These steps can help provide a window into the investment process that’s bettered only by an in-person meeting or live call.