If 2012 was the year of BuzzFeed-like listicles and 2013 brought us peak GIF (pronounced like the Peanut Butter), then you better be prepared for the next shareable media trend that is sweeping the Internet into the new calendar year: Headlines that are far too long, don’t provide nearly enough information – and force you to click through to get to the actual story.
Originated by the likes of the Huffington Post Twitter feed – which has evolved its own spoiler for the impatient non-clickers – and perfected by the folks over at Upworthy, this new style of headline is an oddly shaped creature that has evolved in the last few years of social/news media.
Apparently the technical term is a “Curiosity Gap” headline, but that also may be a bit of jargon that we don’t really need to add to the PR and media world.
The style, which you’ve spotted more than once in the wild, has been ripe for ribbing. Whether that’s the Upworthy Generator or, my personal favorite pop-culture version, Upworthy Springfield, the media watchdogs have gotten bored with the trendy headlines.
The issue? It works. It gets the majority of readers to check out the whole article, click through from Facebook and then share it themselves. In 2014, don’t even think for a second that page-views will cease to be important as a bottom line. That means that if something works to drive that number up, it will only be done more often and with less caution.
We aren’t here to add to that pile of questioning, but there is one advantage that comes to mind if you’re in PR: you may have just found out your test if your pitch passes the test. Time and time again, when we get a chance to ask a reporter what kind of stories or infographics they want, the answer usually is in the form of “It needs to be surprising” and “it needs to tell a story”. The Curiosity Gap headline does just that – it leads to that revelation but doesn’t give it away, and you just have to know more. That’s newsworthiness in 2014.
I’m far from suggesting that we should be out there pitching that style (“This Hospital Didn’t Think it Had Enough Data To Make a Difference – What Happened Next Saved Someone’s Life”). It’s just a nifty trick to think about whether or not you have a story.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Senior Account Manager