How to make things go viral

virusWhat you write is meaningless if it isn’t getting an audience.

In the multimedia journalism course I teach at Carleton’s journalism school, and in the Ottawa Citizen newsroom where I work my ‘day job’, I’m often speaking about headlines and SEO.

We started asking reporters in our newsroom to start writing headlines about two years ago. At first, they were nervous. For decades newspapers have employed journalists whose sole purpose was to write a beautiful headline.

I tell students to think about crafting a headline that will attract search engine robots. Yes, I said robots. (I tell students to visualize these bots like the spiders that creep around in Minority Report, pulling open eyelids to scan and confirm identities.

I came across this great presentation from Upworthy ‘How to make that one thing go viral’ and had to add it to this blog.

I gave our reporters and my Carleton students this handout, to help them with their headlines.  The examples on this handout are dated, but the same rules apply. I’ve uploaded it to Scribd, and posted it here:

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