Can It Pay To Be An Attention Seeking Ho-bag?
There’s always a good story or two to be told somewhere. Some of these are great and some are not so great.
Let’s take a look at a recent example that whilst seemingly innocuous offers one or two important lessons for you event organisers.
The Daily Mail recently ran a story which was penned by one of its staff by the name of Samantha Brick.
This isn’t the first time that the Daily Mail has courted controversy and it certainly won’t be the last. The Daily Mail is in the business of page views. Page views feed it’s rate card and for that reason it does its utmost to gain as much attention as it can, and boy it hit the jackpot yesterday!
Samantha wrote a piece around the difficulties of being beautiful. No really, she did. This caused an up swell of commentary in places all around the web.
Media Briefing has posted some great stats around the economics of the story detailing ad revenue models and various numbers from web sources.
The Mail itself reports that the article had 1.5 million “hits” yesterday but Mail Online MD James Bromley tells me that the entire site received nearly six million unique visits yesterday (which fits with the ABC-audited average daily user figure for March of 5.7 million). Most traffic is from the UK, he says, but the US follows close behind.
Twitter was ablaze with outrage and ridicule generating over 1 million tweets (and rising) on the topic. The graph below shows the activity for the keywords Samantha Brick and Daily Mail over the previous 7 days as of April 5th 2012.
The article itself, generated in excess of 5000 comments. At it’s peak it was receiving around 4 new comments per second.
Samantha Brick story on MailOnline now has 3,138 comments, more than some news sites get in a month. That’s 224 per hour.
— Patrick Smith (@psmith) April 3, 2012
There are a wave of copycat type stories both threatened.
I may post a piece saying how all my married friends shun me due to my debonair playboy looks. I’ll bemoan the woes of career halts too.
— Rob Watts (@robwatts) April 4, 2012
I could write a post on how being such a gorgeous hunk makes it hard for me as a linkbaiter, but I wont.
— Lyndon Antcliff (@lyndoman) April 5, 2012
And inevitably written by some too.
People are of course having a lot of fun with this, although going by some of the comments some are quite angry too.
Samantha even appeared on UK national TV this morning program (video) and gave her reason for writing the piece as she was concerned that other women were less than polite to her because of her looks.
The Daily Mail has also ran a follow up piece (and lots of others) and is clearly milking it for all its worth.
Get people excited by things that they care about
I’m not going to try and rehash or debate any of what Samantha has said or what’s been written about her as that’s clearly been done to death. I’d merely be contributing to the echo chamber and would look like one of those copycat page view whores. It is noteworthy all the same that Samantha is most certainly not the most beautiful woman in the world (unless you’re her Dad, Mum or her Husband maybe) but because of the way in which she’d wrote her piece, she’s inflamed the egos and passions of people almost everywhere.
And therein is the clue P A S S I O N.
If you want to make your event a success, then you have to try and inspire a little passion in folks.
You have to get people excited, you have to try and get them to care about what it is you are saying.
Samantha Brick outraged the sensibilities of men and women by daring to suggest that she had this terrible problem of beauty. She came across as some kind narcissistic dimwit who lived in this make believe world full of jealous others who saw her as some kind of threat. She failed (some might say on purpose) to grasp the fact that in the grand scheme of things she really isn’t anything particularly special to look at. She’s hardly ugly (every-body’s beau-ti-ful in their own wa-y) but she wrote the piece as if what she was saying was in some way unquestionably true.
People hate bullshit, especially when its delivered from an established platform of perceived authority with a fine tradition in print news.
Cynics would say that the piece was in fact a finely crafted piece of writing devised solely to enrage and stoke scorn and derision. AKA Linkbait. Links are the hidden economy of the web. They drive relevancy and boost rankings in search engines like Google and Bing. High rankings for keywords can mean big money for certain types of publishers. The Mail Online isn’t the first reactionary news publisher and it certainly won’t be the last.
When you consider the economics, 6 million page views @ a CPM(cost per 1000 page impressions) of between 20 and 40 GBP is a princely sum of between £120,000 and £240,000! Yes, wow.
Even if those CPM figures are somewhat inflated it’s still a handy insight in to what drives interest on todays web. People it seems love to be annoyed, they love to rage out and have their say, especially when they fundamentally disagree with what’s been posited.
The key takeaway here is that whatever your event may be about, it really does pay to think around what hooks and devices are there at your disposal.
Thinking about the Psychology of your intended audience
Samantha’s piece hit so many buttons in the minds of both men and women, you could almost see the lights flashing from the moon.
She touched raw nerves and dared tread on topics that most people would only joke about in some light hearted way. She gave people an impression that she truly believed in what she was saying and that her life really was made difficult by her ‘beauty’.
This of course sparked fire in peoples mind and induced mass incredulity as people mocked and laughed at how she could truly believe this. When you compare her difficulties with those of someone blinded or critically injured then it begins to put things in a perspective where people were justifiably flabbergasted by what she was saying.
And yet, that’s the power of good writing. It allows the writer to keep a straight face throughout, there’s no immediate point at which we can counter the readers belief or opinion mid flow. What we say is digested and interpreted as it is read.
By pressing the right buttons we can elicit responses that really can create mass interest. People will want to share their concerns and have in their droves linked to the piece over and over again.
Whilst the example cited may seem a little extreme, it most certainly illustrates the benefits of attention. If you are marketing your event, it is your job to create attention, and it most certainly pays to give it that little extra thought. How you go about that is of course, entirely up to you.
Did I ever tell you how tough it is to be a man?