Media, please stop using these headlines
I’ve been writing for Muck Rack for a little while now and I think every single piece I’ve written has come from the position of a public relations professional with 17 years of experience in the field.
But, for this article, I’m coming from the position of Joe Public general news consumer.
I admit it, I’m a bit of a news junkie. Partly because I have to be for my job, but also because I just can’t consume enough information. But, because I’m constantly watching, listening and reading various media outlets, I can get a bit bludgeoned by them.
Specifically, some of the headlines just absolutely drive me nuts.
Whether it’s a particular style of headline or just the fact that it’s wildly misleading regarding the actual content of the story, headlines can be maddening.
So here are a few things (notice I didn’t say how many) I wish the media would stop doing with regards to their headlines.
"You won’t believe what happens next"
This is a relatively new one that has already grown old with me.
It’s usually on blogs or social media (I think technically blogs are social media, but they’ve become so popular and integrated with traditional media that I wouldn’t lump, say, ProFootballTalk.com in with Facebook as far as a category, but I digress) that this is mostly used and I find myself disappointed every. Single. Time.
“This woman steals this boy’s hat…what he does next will shock you!”
Ummmm...I highly doubt it.
When I first started seeing these headlines, I used to click. I wanted to find out what was so shocking, just imagining the look of sheer disbelief on my face, jaw completely open as could not believe what this kid did next. Then you watch and…oh, he had a second hat in his pocket that he pulled out. Meh.
Despite the fact that we all know better than to watch the video and become disappointed, these headlines still show up in my Facebook feed all too frequently. Please make it stop.
That’s exactly why I didn’t give an exact number of points I was going to make in my headline.
Now, go back through my Muck Rack articles and yes, you will see that I’m absolutely guilty of doing it. What are they called? “Listicles,” I think?
“Six things all successful people do before 7 A.M.”
This is exactly where the term “clickbait” came from. What is it about our brains that we just have to find out what these six things were?
It took far too long for me (and apparently most people) to come to the realization that while there seemed like a incredible package of information waiting for me and it was just one click away, it was usually a big nothingburger.
Far too often these lists are worthless. Maybe they seem like more as a collective, but I never find the individual points to be informative in the list. Instead, in an effort to get to “10 Things…” or whatever, a bunch of garbage was compiled to reach that stated number.
This is the reason I felt compelled to write this article. This one absolutely drives me up a wall. It’s almost always politically related and I’m not even picking on liberal or conservative media outlets. They all do it.
“Bombshell Report: Hillary Clinton loses 10 lbs.”
This is not a bombshell. At all. Let’s stop using this word “bombshell.”
A bombshell report would be something along the lines of Hillary colluding with Donald Trump and the Russians to help get Donald elected. That would be a bombshell. This term is way overused and doesn’t even carry any weight or have any impact anymore.
And for the record, the story that accompanies the headline I suggested probably says that Hillary lost six pounds with immediate plans to lose four more.
The media needs to wake up a bit and realize that they are only desensitizing us with these headlines.
Eventually, we as readers will wake up and understand that these headlines aren’t worth the clicks.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 3,424 times…
A co-founder of Large Media, Inc., Micah Warren has been a public relations strategist for more than 15 years. A published writer with an incredible track record of media placements, Micah has gotten his clients in USA Today, Fox Business Network, Bloomberg TV, Inc.com, CNBC.com, The Daily Caller, The NY Times, The NY Post, Esquire, Maxim magazine, ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” ESPN.com , Askmen.com, GQ, BBC, Reuters and many other newspapers, television shows, radio networks, websites and trade publications.
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