The Stranger the Better

Wanted: Married Couple to Fly by Mars. 

Baby was Tossed Out in Grocery Bag. 

Vermont Woman Receives Face Transplant. 

These are the types of headlines that appear on the front page of any reputable news website. The examples I just named are from ABCNews.com and CNN.com. What does it mean about newsworthiness today if headlines like these overpower other subjects like politics, war, and the economy?

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Another top story was a possible 14-foot shark killing a film director off the coast of New Zealand.

It means that our society is fascinated with the new and unusual. It means that we won’t bother even looking at a news website if something doesn’t catch our eye quickly. As has been acknowledged many times, we live in a society of scanners. We quickly look over what is either short enough to take the time to read, or interesting enough to invest our time in.

Since the development of Twitter, I think that “real” news on news websites has become even more scarce because people have the luxury of reading the day’s highlights in 140 characters. CNN, The New York Times, ABC News, USA Today and other major news outlets are constantly updating their Twitter accounts with the latest news. Who wants to read a 500 word story when it can be told in a tweet?

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What does this mean for public relations professionals? It means that our stories better be pretty darn interesting. Unless a story directly relates to a reader, they won’t look twice if it’s not interesting enough to compete with everything else on the home page of a news website.

I think that the best tool out there for PR practitioners is Twitter. If the tweets are crafted well enough, audiences can look at the tiny microblog and know everything they need to know about a story or an event. Unless the story you are trying to pitch is about a seven-headed fish crawling out of a local high school’s toilet, Twitter is the best tool for public relations professionals.

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This is where the “real” news is located on a news website: at the bottom of the page, with no pictures, and tiny text.

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One response to “The Stranger the Better

  1. Prof. K

    Nice job. Consider using headlines to help guide the reader.

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