Will Reading the Tabloids Make You a Better Copywriter?
The world’s largest newspaper doesn’t get much respect.
Critics scoff: “Not real news,” “Celebrity fluff, ” “Pure trivia.”
But unlike other newspapers analyzed in a recent Pew Research Center report, the Daily Mail does do ONE thing very well…
… make money. Hand over fist!
Their secret? Headlines. Magnetic headlines.
See for yourself:
No More Mr. Nasty! Giggling Simon Cowell larks around with bikini-clad Lauren Silverman on the beach in Barbados before he asks fan to come to tea
Lana Del Ray picks up two coffees in LA after its revealed she’ll fill her 2017 schedule with three European festival appearances
‘I cry, it’s hard;’ Kyle Richards reveals it’s been heartbreaking dealing with her daughter Alexia’s move to Boston for college
Make no mistake, it takes a lot of SKILL to write this inanely!
Which is why general interest and celebrity magazines only hire “rainmakers.” These are the copywriters who pull rabbits out of hats — consistently — in the overmined, insatiable, and hypercompetitive world of celebrity news.
It’s hard to believe but true. Readers of pop fluff are finicky!
So, when you see recurring themes in the Mail’s headlines, you can bet they’re pulling in eyeballs.
Long-form copy for short attention spans
The Mail turns standard wisdom about headlines on its ear:
For example, how many times have you heard “Nobody reads long headlines anymore“?
Probably ever since you made it your mission to become a better copywriter.
And yet a typical Mail example explodes that assumption…
It’s party time for the royals! Kate, William, Harry and little George lead the arrivals at Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Christmas lunch
Couple the rule-breaking headline with bullets — mundane bullets — that also run long:
· Expectant mum was the first to arrive with her husband Mike
· Equestrian star, 35, added a touch of festive sparkle in a silver dress
· William and Kate expected to join the Queen for annual family tradition
The result? A paper that looks NOTHING like its competitors.
Any move by its rivals to mimic the Mail’s design will expose them as followers… B-players.
Adding to their unorthodox design, the Mail tends to repeat — verbatim — the long headlines and bullets in the body of articles.
Lazy or brilliant? The answer is yes.
Better Copywriter Challenge
Now am I suggesting that you stop what you’re doing and adopt the headline (and bullet) methods of the Daily Mail?
Heck no! Unless, that is, you’re in the business of selling ad space or celebrity content. If that’s the case, then by all means — rip them off!
But if you’re determined to become a better copywriter, then it’s worth a (regular) skim.
Here’s the truth. Although the Daily Mail, TMZ, and Page Six probably aren’t apropos for your audience, you can still learn from them.
What the public responds to can be transferred to almost any industry or market. That’s to say, the Mail’s curiosity + danger, curiosity + benefit, curiosity + fascination headline formulas most certainly can be applied to your own copy.
Never forget that small, incremental copy changes can be collectively powerful.
And glancing at the home page of the Mail is a fast and cheap way to learn headline writing.
Just think about the variations of this headline, “Who Else Wants a Screen Star Figure?”
· Who Else Wants to Save Money on Insurance? (Insurance Broker)
· Who Else Wants to Join the Party? (Investment Advice)
· Who Else Wants to Learn Mandarin? (Language Class)
The original headline was written for overweight housewives nearly 70 years ago…
And it’s still reeling em’ in today!
Obviously, asking you to “glance” at the Daily Mail is like asking you to take “one bite” of chocolate cake. Probably can’t be done! So instead, my advice is simply to avoid GORGING. Allow yourself five or six headlines (along with the bullets) and then… move on!
And if you’d you like my assistance crafting headlines that speak to your targets (with a bullhorn!) and bullets that pop right off the page, contact me to schedule your no-obligation conversation.