The Crucial Blog
A headline of the game?
Life's full of coincidences isn't it. There I was in my last blog musing about the skill and wit of The Sun's headline writers and then, hey presto, find myself perusing an array of info from Copyblogger founder Brian Clark on the writing of great headlines and why they're so critical.
And, by the way, the subs at The Sun show no signs of flagging. Only yesterday Lucky Heather was applied to a single column five liner about a walker clinging to heather at the edge of a 300ft drop for 90 minutes before being rescued. Although why they can only give five lines to what sounds like an amazing story when they can devote endless double page spreads and front pages to the latest X Factor fallout or Rhianna is beyond me, but - hey - that's a whole other blog.
I've been writing headlines in newspapers and magazines for a long time and it's a real skill. Grab the reader's attention, tell them what the words below are about and make them totally, and utterly, want to read on. And sometimes just within one or two words.
Even with the rise of the digital age and social media, the rules remain the same. It's just the form of presentation that has changed.
Even television programme makers are making their titles to fit with digital strictures. Nowadays, to find out what's on the box does not require a genteel perusal through the Radio Times (other TV guides are available), taking in the full programme details. The advent of the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) enables us to discover what's on for a whole evening, several channels at a time.
Today's programme's have to have titles that are short, snappy and guaranteed to grab the casual viewer's interest as he/she whizzes through the TV screen-sized table of contents. Cue the likes of The Boy Who Gave Birth to His Twin, or Half Ton Dad/Mum/Son - shlock/horror tabloid titles for programmes telling moving, sometimes inspirational, sometimes sad tales of extreme human conditions in a very unsensational way.
About eight out of 10 people read a headline, but only two of that 10 will go on to read the content, according to recent studies so it's worth paying time and attention to those few words as they are the first, and perhaps only, impression that will be made on a prospective reader.
And if they don't read on - well the finely crafted words underneath might as well not even be there.
Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster. It might not even be true but, by gum, decades on it's still one of the all-time greats.