Magazine article CRM Magazine

Read This Immediately or Die Alone! It's Not Just What We Say, but How We Draw Attention to It

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Read This Immediately or Die Alone! It's Not Just What We Say, but How We Draw Attention to It

Article excerpt

FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME, whose bread and butter is communicating ideas, the Internet and social networking have been a huge opportunity. It's easier than ever for writers, artists, videographers, and other creative types to gain exposure for whatever it is they have to express. That's the good part.

The gray lining to that silver cloud is the sheer volume of mass media that potential audiences have to sort through. The signal-to-noise ratio is pretty ugly when the amount of noise is near infinite. To combat this, advertisers and marketers have adopted some fairly drastic tactics to get their share of your attention.

I was recently asked by a client (whom I won't name) if I could punch up the titles of some commissioned articles I had written for them. This is a fair request, and one I've received countless times in my career. A little jazz is expected from time to time.

Unfortunately, the client suggested a reprehensible example of whom to copy. BuzzFeed. Them I'll name, because that site has become its own verb, one synonymous with clickbaiting, or luring readers in an effort to generate pay-per-click (PPC) ad revenue through the use of sensational and misleading titles.

You know the type I mean--the title of this article is an example. Others, such as "You won't believe this one weird trick to shrink your gut" or "The four things to hoard in a disaster that FEMA doesn't want you to know about," are others I just invented, but that you can probably find if you Google them anyway. The articles linked to clickbait are often tawdry and/or poorly researched and reported, amounting to little more than rumor-mongering and mudslinging.

I refused--vehemently--for several reasons, only some of which related to my professional ethics and pride. The remaining reasons were more about protecting the client than my own reputation, and I'll explain the reasoning behind that in a moment. …

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