Why you gotta sell it.

springfield newsWhy do newspapers have headlines? I’ll tell you why. It’s because any given newspaper or magazine has eleventy-two articles, and guess how many are of significant interest to you? Exactly TWO. The headline is the single most important element that chooses whether we decide to read the article or not.

Examine your Facebook feed or personal email inbox. If you’re anything like me, you absolutely require a decent pitch to get me to click on/open anything. And it’s gotta be a legit pitch that delivers. If it makes an outrageous prediction, it better actually make my jaw drop – or at least raise my eyebrows. Otherwise you end up like the online world now rolling its collective eyes at Upworthy and its headlines promising “Your life will change after watching this video!!” (No. It won’t.) Or “What happened next will leave you BREATHLESS!!” (Sorry. I enjoy breathing. Next.)

upworthy-dogOr even the well-meaning friend who posts some video with no explanation whatsoever. It could be the most amazing thing ever, but without making a case for why, people will not watch. I see this happening constantly. Every. Single. Day.

And any given TV show or movie out there. It will always begin with something that either sucks you in, or at very least gives you an idea of what you’re about to see… so you can decide whether to hang around or not.

Your videos must always give the audience a compelling reason for the audience to give of its precious, increasingly limited attention. Call it a cold open, a tease, an overview, or whatever. Just make sure you set the context so your audience gets it.

And once you’ve put that promise out there, deliver.

Speaking of which, I’ve written a book called EDIT BETTER: Hollywood-Tested Strategies For Powerful Video Editing.  It makes a pretty gutsy promise in its headline, it’s up to you to decide how it delivers.

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