Britney Spears Plumps My Pillow

Muhammad Saleem has written a thought provoking article on Copyblogger regarding the injection of common cultural celebrities into your headlines as a way of reaching out to a potential reader.

The post is targeted at social media submissions and how using common cultural hot spots can get your stuff noticed.

The post distills a few thoughts I have on this technique with regards to headline writing and hopefully moves my writing ability on a bit further.

Connecting on a cultural level is vital if you want to attract a reader. This doesn’t mean your article has to have a mass appeal, just the headline. Your article can focus in on a subject that has nothing to do with the “icon” you have mentioned in the headline. It is merely a device.

In my headlines I introduce recognisable imagery to instill a curiosity factor in a reader. Something that seems a little ridiculous or a little silly. Maybe I follow the Monty Python school of headline writing.

A thought occurs. It’s the imagery rather than the word that is important. It is what a reader imagines in their mind. Once you connect as a writer, to someones imagination, then you have won the battle.

It’s all about finding the door into a readers head.

For example, my post title, Title tags and the secret story of the hairy golf ball. Let me let you into a little secret. I wrote the headline before I wrote the article. I do that with about 50% of my articles. The vision of a hairy golf ball stuck in my mind and for some reason I managed to use it whilst writing about title tags.

Now, whether or not it works is up to the individual reader, but it did get a good slew of comments. I judge the success of a post on the comments rather than the traffic, because it means something I wrote has motivated another human being to respond.

When another human being responds to you it means they have noticed you. This blog in a broad sense is about getting noticed, which is a part of marketing.

Getting noticed. Stopping people dead in their tracks and causing them to perform an action you want them to.

My blog is a shop window on a busy street. People rush by, only time for a quick glance in the window. My job is to put something in that window that makes them stop and stare. Late for work? Even the better.

Using an icon like “Britney Spears” can be very useful. But you must be aware that you are not writing about the person called Britney Spears, you are writing about the icon “Britney Spears”. You are using common cultural knowledge which has been created by the media to reach a mass audience.

Think about it, all the knowledge you have about “Britney Spears”, comes from the media. Unless you have sat down and had a chat with her. Knowing that is very useful, because it gives an insight into what other people have experienced. We can then use that experience to craft an ?ber attractive headline.

Mostly, these kind of headlines can be written quickly and easily because you sub-conscious has been churning over the information in the background and can usually spit out something interesting on demand.

Although the sub-conscious can be a right pain in the arse sometimes, but that’s another story.

BTW, if you are wondering why I chose this headline? Check out my Stumble blog, whilst you are there you might as well fan me to enable my feeds to show on your Stumble page. It’s a great way to keep up.

Comments

  1. says

    Very true. The main thing I took from that is that is “you are not writing about the person called Britney Spears, you are writing about the icon ?Britney Spears?. Interesting stuff.

  2. says

    Genius. I noticed that more people read my post “My milkshake brings all the boys to the store room” than any other post… culturally relevant… illustrated something… technically not what the article was about. You are my new hero:).

  3. Ron Borg says

    uuhhh…. so this post isn’t about Brittany?

    Great points but copywriting 101. The challenge is in not pissing off your reader when they click on your headline about Brangelina only to find an article about the Presidential race. Keep it relevant or you’ll never see that reader again.

  4. Chad says

    O.J. Threatens to Bring Down this Comment!

    To #6:
    I agree with you there. There’s a small moral dilemma that I stumble on there, feeling like I completely duped my reader into taking a quick marketing lesson.

    Must be some fine line in there. I’m going to run a little experiment myself.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Cornwall discusses another article?which explains?how?using celebs in your headlines could bring in more readers. I believe my experiment relates. I am SOOOO tempted to discuss Britney losing custody of her kids, but it just doesn’t go here. [...]