What Great Copywriting and Tabloid Newspapers Have in Common—And What They Definitely Don’t

Estimated reading time: 11 minute(s)

Tabloid newspaper headlines
Source: SplitShire via Pexels.

As copywriters, we try to look everywhere for inspiration. And today, we’re feeling inspired by a slightly unconventional source—tabloid newspapers. In terms of credibility, they run the gamut from Pulitzer-winning publications to basically complete fiction. But one thing is for sure: tabloids do a great job of grabbing the attention of their readers, week after week. Here are just a few positive tips great copywriters can glean from the sometimes murky world of tabloid journalism.

Grab your reader’s attention, and don’t let go

We’ve all been there—queuing at the supermarket checkout, and a tabloid headline catches your eye. Maybe it was Weekly World News’ famous Bat Boy, or the latest headlines about the antics of the Kardashian clan. Whatever the topic, the beguiling headlines are designed to draw your eye, ignite your emotions, and convince you to keep reading.

And while we don’t recommend putting Bat Boy on your company homepage, website copy that gets your reader’s attention right away will keep them interested and make them more likely to give you their business. Say something provocative; show them a new way of looking at things. If you can make your reader feel something, all the better. Emotion is linked to memory retention, after all.

Take a stance

Unlike broadsheet newspapers like the New York Times or Washington Post, which focus on objectively reporting the most important stories of the day, tabloids usually have clear overarching point to prove in the stories they cover. Granted, they’re not always points we’d like to associate with, but you get the point. Open a copy, and you know instantly not just the type of story you’re likely to find, but also the author’s point of view. Take the NY Daily News, who tend to champion the little guy against evil fat cats – think Bernie Madoff or corrupt NYC landlords.

Likewise, you should stand for something, and it ought to show through in your website copy, your content marketing, and anywhere else a potential customer might read about you. If you’re a plumber endlessly frustrated by misconceptions about home plumbing design, argue against them! It’s the best way to show off your expertise and passion.

Woman reading tabloid article
Source: Breakingpic via Pexels

Have a little fun

Tabloid writers know that pizzazz pays off. An appetizer of alliteration or some clever wordplay engages potential customers far more than dry, predictable copy ever will.

At first impulse, your company website and blog might feel like something that requires the utmost gravitas. After all, you have to demonstrate that you’re serious—right? Well sure, there’s a place for that. But if your website is so boring that no one reads it, or disengages as soon as they try, they’re not going to find out that you’re an expert at all. Make your copy feel like it’s written by a person, and don’t be afraid to throw in a little playfulness from time to time. Trust us, it pays off.

The big difference: back up your facts

The one way you don’t want to emulate tabloids is saying things you can’t prove, or worse, outright bending the truth. Enticing a reader with something that makes them say “that can’t be true!” and then proving to them why it is true is a big win for your credibility; failing to do so is a big, BIG loss. If you aren’t sure something is accurate, regardless of how inconsequential it may seem, don’t publish it. Back your claims up with good, solid facts and trusted external sources whenever possible, and you’re already doing one better than certain news corporations we could mention.

The bottom line is, if a customer discovers that you’ve misrepresented the facts or outright lied, you can be sure you’ll never hear from them (or their friends) ever again. And remember that news spreads fast on social media. So be provocative, but only if you’re sure you can back up your claims.

Looking for engaging, fact-checked copywriting? Get in touch today and find out what great copy can do for your business.


Written by Matt Timmons

Posted in

Samantha McLaren

Having worked as a ghost tour guide for five years, Samantha knows how to get a reaction using only words. Hailing from bonny Scotland, she spent years gathering weird, eclectic experience (from laboratory assistant to radio DJ to Sunday school teacher) before finding her true calling–writing. She came to New York to see what MarketSmiths could teach her, and never left. Copywriter by day, amateur horror writer by night, she has a passion for words and is drawn to the strange and unusual.

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