Getting Their Attention
I’ve just read an article in which several newspapers, the Telegraph included, have been castigated for burying tags into the F-formation type in their lead online articles. Apparently we read in the shape of the letter F, starting with the first and second lines, then scanning down the left-hand side of the page. By sticking key tags into this pattern, you pique readers’ interest more and raise the tag profile of your article. So, in a piece on new year dieting, you could say ‘Diets, of the kind made fashionable by Britney Spears, are becoming popular’, and you can lift your hit rate.
New press tricks are needed to take over from the ones of the past, because the clamour to be heard, read or seen has never been greater. But to look at a lot of British newspapers, you’d think that it was 1965. The Telegraph is obsessed with churches, farming and sex. The Express seems to think someone is still interested in the royal family. The Daily Mail wants its suburbanite readers to have their worst fears about foreigners realised on a daily basis, and the tabloids make up stories about reality TV stars that fall into two categories; sexually betraying or hitting each other.
Even so, it’s amazing how few authors have truly got to grips with electronic interaction – it’s incredibly time-consuming, but for me at least, has been the most revealing and consistently entertaining development in my writing career. Here’s to a new year of writing online.
BTW, the picture comes from the cover of the new edition of Michael Frayn’s hilarious novel about the dying days of Fleet Street, ‘Towards The End Of The Morning’.
Oh, and check the tags. See what I did there?