By: Zoe Graham
From elementary school onward, I have been trained to write academic essays, research papers, reports and comparative analysis. However, with the arrival of the Internet and cell phones, people tend to have shorter and shorter attention spans. People tend to read news stories, reports and open links based on attention-grabbing headlines or short excerpts that attract their interest. With so much information available at our fingertips, how do media writers today effectively promote and generate traffic to their story in a world of impatient readers?
As a college student, I get the majority of my news from Twitter. In 140 characters or less, I decide if a story is worth reading based on the headline. That being said, solely writing a well-drafted story is not enough to draw traffic. It’s about effectively developing a concise headline and lead and posting to heavy-reader sources.
I’ve come across this obstacle in the past few months working at the Voinovich School. This is the first time I’ve realized how challenging it is to say everything you need to in a few words. I’ve spoken with many inspiring individuals and organizations such as the Voinovich School’s Robert Gordon, who worked with the village of Pomeroy to create a roadmap for local growth and prosperity called Imagine Pomeroy. There are months of dedication, details and drive behind this initiative—but if I as the writer don’t give an effective introduction and lead, the reader may skim over and forget about the story. It’s a matter of using social media and Internet headlines to generate enough interest to get readers to want to follow up and learn about the details.
To inform successfully today, it isn’t enough to have good ideas, research, plans and programs. Informing and promoting the most interesting, unique and valuable parts requires condensing the most complex ideas into a headline or a tweet. Then, hopefully, those people interested enough will explore deeper and become educated about the programs and research you are trying to promote.
There are great opportunities and great challenges for researchers to promote their programs and research in a sea of information and for media writers to effectively inform their audience of their research in a concise format, as well as ensure their attention-grabbing hooks are not just empty phrases, but introductions to interesting and valuable information and stories.
For me personally, working at the Voinovich School I’ve come to realize the challenge the media faces. When the school does such unique work in the “do tank” attitude, I want to make sure I do my part to generate interest and captivate readers so I can inform the community and the world of all the incredible things happening here.