I’ll be the first to admit I have a love/hate relationship with click-bait type articles. Given my background as a journalist, I have certain preferences when it comes to reporting styles. For one, I’m among those who still enjoy long reads. As long as the content warrants a lengthy feature, I’m all for a good page-turner. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not always stuffy and boring. But as we all know, most readers today lack enough patience or time to devote themselves to something beyond a few paragraphs.
Hence the increasing popularity of listicles a la BuzzFeed (and those who’ve followed suit). Much like those headlines gracing the covers of our favorite magazines (i.e. “21 Must-Try Fall Fashion Items”) that never fail to capture our attention in the grocery store checkout line, their go-to style is using attention-worthy headlines followed by GIFS, pictures and, of course, lists.
Who can blame them? Their aggregate algorithm works and millions of people flock to the website every day for viral content.
As PR Daily recently reported, there are "5 ‘mind-blowing’ content lessons from click-bait"
that folks in PR can take away from BuzzFeed to help ensure more editors will open their pitch emails by improving their headlines. Ironic, yes? Effective? Probably.
A condensed version appears below:
1. Nothing is more important than the headline. Whether it’s the email subject line for a media pitch or a corporate blog post, if it doesn’t have a good headline, no one is reading the rest of it.
2. People love numbered lists. Magazine editors know this, too. Numbered lists make content more easily digestible, and when there is so much competition for eyeballs, you need every advantage you can get.
3. Relate the message to your audience. If you look at clickbait headlines, they inevitably tell you how the story will make you feel or how it made the author feel. PR pros should always look for ways to make our content relatable to a reporter’s beat or audience. The less generic, the better.
4. Everything is in second person. News writing over the last decade has gotten progressively more casual, and in many cases, whether it’s a blog post or a byline, it is more preferable to talk to “you” than to stubbornly stick to stuffy third person.
5. Pique their curiosity. Phrases such as “what happened next” appear all the time because if a reader can get everything he or she needs from the headline, there’s no reason to give it a click.