So farewell then The Daily and Sunday Sport and your completely mad and totally made up headlines.
No more “World War II Bomber Found on Moon” or “Aliens Turned Our Son Into A Fish Finger.” The papers which plundered the depths for more and more outrageous headlines have finally folded and those who care about the truth can rest easy.
Or can they?
Headline writers in search of credibility are often urged not to promise more than they can deliver but bloggers, like the old school newspaper journos before them, are not immune from using controversial headlines to try to pull in an audience.
To start off we bloggers were ok – the headlines proclaiming the death of everything from newspapers to press releases were often true – there’s nothing like a change in the way we do things to get the headlines flowing. Unlike the Sport newspaper we didn’t need to make things up to grab attention.
Now as things settle down I’m seeing something slightly different – an outbreak of hyped up headlines based on flimsy evidence and the desire to shock.
Admittedly if you aren’t a social media nut you won’t be freaked by the declaration that “The Retweet is dead’ or “Twitter is a waste of time” but I think that as social media marketing becomes more mainstream there is an attempt to grab attention - and it is coming from the inside.
Don’t get me wrong – I am all for rigorously examining what we do and the tools we use to do it and I know a number of thoughtful practitioners who have written pieces along these lines. However there are way too many posts out there which seem to be looking for some sort of controversy for the sake of it.
The further we travel in a world dominated by social media the more the old truths apply.
- Base you headlines on truth.
- Ensure stories have substance – don’t just pad out a hot headline.
- Ask tough questions but don’t kick things over for the sake of it.