Enticing readers to read more news and ads

July 8, 2014

In editing a tabloid newspaper years ago, we measured our headlines’ pulling power by street sales. A good front page headline could sell 100,000 more copies a day. You bet that helped our advertisers.

The same principle applies to community newspapers. Better presentations spur greater readership. The following e-mail to our ad and news team members explores this strategy more fully:

Good morning, fellow ink-stained wretches. See if you will accept this psychological premise as of value to us.

One of our goals should be to entice, intrigue and lure our readers to read more of our content

Many people complain to me—and probably to you, too—about the local daily newspaper. They say there’s nothing in it. It takes only minutes to go through it.

In other words, little of value in readers’ minds.

Here are three intriguing concepts:

1. Enticing headlines lure them into reading ads, articles, columns and other news.

2. Sub-headlines or decks further intrigue them as are quote outs and type breakers.

These devices offer intriguing prompts to our readers and entice them to read more of what we have to offer.

3. The lead paragraph should lure readers to read the following paragraphs.

It is a chain of enticements that compel them to spend more time with us and create in their minds more value.

Think of this as a carnival barker inviting you to “step right up to see the two-headed calf” or TV pitch women enticing you to buy some magic goop that eliminates wrinkles—and call right now for a second jar free.


Strong headlines

Here’s an example from Hal Millard’s story in a recent paper.

Headline: County tackling growing meth epidemic

Note the active verb “tackling” and trigger word “epidemic.”

A subhead might read: Illegal drug pushers buy supplies legally at local stores

Hal’s short, crisp lead reads: Lexington County has a meth problem.

A type breaker box told readers how to report drug activity to local law enforcement.

This is a helpful, interesting presentation.


Works with advertising, too

The same principles apply to advertising. Here’s a headline in Dr. Greg Wych’s dentistry ad.

Are headaches keeping you from enjoying, even living your life?

The sub-headline: Introducing a drug-free, needle-free, non-invasive, ALL NATURAL approach to treating and ending your chronic headache pain ….

The first paragraph: Dear Reader. If you routinely suffer through the agony of chronic migraine-level headaches, then you know what I mean when I say—suffering from headaches is a terrible way to live.

Is this manipulative? You bet it is. But our motives are 99 and 44/100ths percent pure.

We want our readers to enjoy a great experience and discover more about what’s going on in their community.

When we present readers our news and advertising—online as well as in print—they will value their reading experience more. They will find our advertising, information and news so interesting they can’t resist reading. They will equate value with the time they spend reading the paper.

July takeaway thought. A sample copy of the opening chapters of my new book “Lead People, Manage Things, Vol. 2: What It Costs to Be the Boss in Today’s Challenging Newspaper Climate” is available to Publishers’ Auxiliary subscribers. E-mail me for a copy at JerryBellune@yahoo.com. Copyright 2014, The Bellune Co. Inc.


Jerry Bellune and his family own and operate book and newspaper publishing companies and a consulting and sales coaching company. For information on how he might help you, e-mail him at JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

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