Saturday, May 23, 2015

Which Headline Would You Click On?

  1. The Headlines We Wanted to Run but Just Couldn’t
  2. Inside Slate Editors’ Heds
  3. Headlines: You’re Doing it Wrong
  4. Headlines: How to Do Them Right
  5. How Many Kittens Died in the Making of This Headline? (Seven.)
  6. Headlines Suck, but Not for the Reasons That You Think

Winner here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Every Bio Should Be This Peppy

“Erica Leibrandt is a certified Yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, student of Buddhism, vegan chef and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children. She aims to apply the principles of Yoga to real life. Between teaching Yoga, holding vegan cooking seminars, writing and cycling she spends her time as a taxi service to her children, being walked by her dogs and trying to dream up an alternative to doing the laundry. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg and you can never dance too much. You can connect with Erica on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.”

Erica Leibrandt

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why BuzzFeed Ads Can’t Target Certain People

“Marketers cannot tell BuzzFeed to only show branded videos to segments of its audience who fit a narrow demographic or have previously purchased a certain product. Instead, BuzzFeed offers to draw on its wealth of data showing which people share which content to create content designed to appeal to that target audience.”

BuzzFeed Pushes Data, Scale and Miracle Berries at NewFront

Related: The Real Genius Behind BuzzFeed: Data

Monday, April 27, 2015

What It’s Like to Edit Wikipedia

“The tensions can sometimes resemble those that roil political parties in transition. It can be an inhospitable place for new editors. A neophyte editor who hits ‘edit’ on an article will be presented with text that looks more like code than prose. If she still manages to make her edit, she then faces the high likelihood that her change will be reverted back [sic] by a cadre of veteran editors policing for so-called vandalism but also for edits that don’t align with the community’s extensive set of norms. Finally, if she continues to edit and even participates in discussions, she will often encounter raucous, male-dominated debates.”

Saving Wikipedia

Sunday, April 26, 2015

How to Oppose Gay Marriage Without Being a Jerk

Take it away Will Saletan:

If you’re a Republican running for president, prepare yourself. The next reporter who corners you at a diner might pop the question. No, she doesn’t want to marry you. But she might ask whether you’d attend a gay wedding. In the last week, that question has been posed to at least five candidates: Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Govs. Scott Walker and John Kasich, and former Sen. Rick Santorum. In general, their answers have been weak. Here’s what they’ve said, and how you can handle the question better than they did.

When Hewitt posed the same question to Santorum on Thursday, the former senator flatly said no:

Q: Would you, Rick Santorum, attend a same-sex wedding of a loved one or a family friend or anyone who you were close to?
A: No, I would not.
Q: Well, why not?
A: Because ... as a person of my faith, that would be something that would be a violation of my faith. I would love them and support them, but I would not participate in that ceremony.

Santorum gets points for candor. And he draws the approved Christian distinction between loving and condoning. But for listeners who have gay friends or family, Santorum seems to offer nothing. Compare his answer with this one, delivered by Walker on Saturday night:

Q: Would you attend a gay wedding?
A: Well, in terms of—that’s certainly a personal issue. For a family member, Tonette and I and our family already had a family member who’s had a reception. I haven’t been at a wedding. But that’s true even though my position on marriage is still that it’s defined between a man and a woman, and I support the constitution of the state. But for someone I love, we’ve been at a reception.

Doesn’t that sound better? Substantively, Walker gives no more ground than Santorum does. He opposes legal recognition of same-sex marriage, he’s never attended a gay wedding, and he isn’t saying he ever would. But for people who disagree with him, he can say—and does say—that he’s been to a reception. Apparently he’s referring to his wife’s cousin, who married another woman last year. According to the New York Times, “The governor was away on business when the wedding occurred, but he later attended a reception for the newlyweds.”

See how nicely that works out? Schedule your travel to miss the wedding but make the reception. Then you can sound like a decent guy without losing support on the religious right.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

BuzzFeed’s Core Demographic Isn’t Millenials

“Although it has a reputation as a media product for young people, it doesn’t actually operate as though it has one core demographic. BuzzFeed instead taps into a number of different existing networks—distinct groups like new parents, or people from northern Michigan, or children of immigrants, or people named Ashley—and then capitalizes on the distribution platforms the people in those groups use to connect with one another.”

The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why Simple Impressions As a Measure of ROI Are’t Going Anywhere

“The click is a poor measure of audience, applying the same value to an attentive reader and a drive-by visitor. They’re also easy to fake. At one point, corrupt marketers hired armies of humans to increase impressions with their mouse, but now the process has been outsourced to robots. These ‘fraudulent bots’ are responsible for about 36% of online traffic, according to data cited by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

“Yet, since the advent of digital advertising, CPMs, a measure of cost per thousand impressions, has been the industry standard for selling digital advertising, which sets the measure of web traffic. Which means that, like it or not, analytics companies like Chartbeat have to measure impressions.

Can Tony Haile Save Journalism by Changing the Metric?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

U.K. Audiences Dislike What U.S. Audiences Love

Much of what works so well in American BuzzFeed posts—nostalgia, sentimentality, uplift—doesn’t work with British audiences. “That stuff just completely bombs in the U.K.,” BuzzFeed U.K. editor Luke Lewis said. “Nobody wants to be uplifted, particularly. But if you can make the articles funny, and a bit needling and a bit satirical, they do well.”

London Calling: A Look at BuzzFeed’s British Invasion

The Lobbyist’s Version of “I Know a Guy”

1. In December 2012, Uber had an urgent problem: its drivers in Milan were being menaced by angry cabbies wielding tire irons. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick consulted with investor Shervin Pishevar, the politically connected venture capitalist. Pishevar happened to know that Jim Messina, the campaign manager for Barack Obama’s reelection, was celebrating the president’s victory in Italy. As Messina recalls: “I was getting engaged and drinking my ass off.” Still, he took Pishevar’s call at 2 a.m. in Italy, then called U.S. Ambassador David Thorne, who called Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia. City police began looking into the disputes.

2. For Beepi, which lets Californians buy and sell used cars online, Messina is navigating a maze of laws and introducing the company to regulators. He helped score a 48-hour’s-notice meeting with California’s secretary of transportation “that otherwise would have taken six months to set up,” says Beepi CEO Alejandro Resnik. “We consider him our silver bullet.”

The Many Hats of Jim Messina

The Best Rejection Letter Ever

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for applying to the U.S. Digital Service. We’re inspired by the growing number of engineers, designers, and technology experts eager to tackle government's toughest problems and answer the call of public service.

The U.S. Digital Service is in its early stages, and we are seeking candidates with skills tightly matched to our current projects. Members of our team reviewed your application, and we don't have the perfect match for your background right now.

Thanks, again, for applying. We see the tremendous potential to improve services at all levels of government—from local to state to federal—and we encourage you to stay involved in this important work.

U.S. Digital Service Talent Team

RelatedMIT’s Washington Office Has the Best Job Rejection Letters Ever Because They’re a Lesson in Branding

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What Do Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Judy Clarke Have in Common?

Steve Jobs
“He ... came to like the idea of having a uniform for himself, because of both its daily convenience (the rationale he claimed) and its ability to convey a signature style.”

Barack Obama
“You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. ‘You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,’ he said. ‘I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.’ He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. ‘You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.’”

Mark Zuckerberg
“Zuckerberg’s willingness to be different and ignore social norms manifest itself in other ways. He wears a gray T-shirt every day, saying he wants to focus his decision-making energy on Facebook not fashion.”

Judy Clarke
“Knowing exactly what to put on each morning saved her from having to think about it.”

Addendum (5/3/2015): See also Why Zuck and Other Successful Men Wear the Same Thing Every Day and Why I Wear the Exact Same Thing to Work Every Day

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Great Man Shows His Greatness by the Way He Treats Little Men

“Bob Hoover, a famous test pilot and frequent performer at air shows, was returning to his home in Los Angeles from an air show in San Diego. As described in the magazine Flight Operations, at 300 feet in the air, both engines suddenly stopped. By deft maneuvering he managed to land the plane, but it was badly damaged, although nobody was hurt.

“Hoover’s first act after the emergency landing was to inspect the airplane’s fuel. Just as he suspected, the World War II propeller plane he had been flying had been fueled with jet fuel rather than gasoline.

“Upon returning to the airport, he asked to see the mechanic who had serviced his airplane. The young man was sick with the agony of his mistake. Tears streamed down his face as Hoover approached. He had just caused the loss of a very expensive plane and could have caused the loss of three lives as well.

“You can imagine Hoover’s anger. One could anticipate the tongue-lashing that this proud and precise pilot would unleash for that carelessness. But Hoover didn’t scold the mechanic; he didn’t even criticize him. Instead, he put his big arm around the man’s shoulder and said, ‘To show you I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 tomorrow.’

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Friday, April 10, 2015

If You Can’t Sell What You Create, You’re a Bum

Why salesmanship is the ultimate skill.

1. “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” —David Ogilvy

2. There’s no such thing as a bad idea. There are only ideas that clients won’t pay for.

3. Real artists ship. —Steve Jobs

4. “Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent ... Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb ... The world is full of educated derelicts.” —Calvin Coolidge

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Which Headline Do You Think Is Best?

Knowing nothing else, which one would you click on first?

  1. 10 E-Newsletter Tactics You’re Overlooking
  2. The 10 Most Impactful Opportunities Your E-Newsletter Is Overlooking
  3. 10 Fast Ways to Turbocharge Your E-Newsletter
  4. 10 Tactics Every E-Newsletter Must Exploit
  5. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your E-Newsletter
  6. 10 Easy Ways You Can Quickly Enrich Your Email Marketing
  7. 10 Powerful Ways to Perfect Your Email Marketing
  8. How to Polish Your E-Newsletter to Perfection
  9. 10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Make Your Next E-Newsletter More Clickable
  10. The 10 Most Important Elements of Your E-Newsletter
  11. 10 Ways to Make Everyone Read Your E-Newsletter
  12. 10 Ways to Make Sure People Read Every Word of Your E-Newsletter
  13. 10 Things You Need to Know to Master Email Marketing
  14. 10 Easy Wins for Every E-Newsletter
  15. 10 Ways to Transform Your E-Newsletter Into a Revenue-Generating, Grassroots-Mobilizing Machine
  16. 10 Loopholes Every Top E-newsletter Exploits
  17. 10 Power Tips for Pro Email Marketers
  18. How to Become an Email Marketing Wizard
  19. 10 Things You Didn’t Know Your E-newsletter Could Do
  20. 10 Tactics to Consider Before Sending Your Next Email Blast
  21. E-Newsletter Hacks: 10 Small Opportunities That Pay Big Dividends
  22. 10 Proven Ways to Wring Every Drop of ROI Out of Your Email Marketing
  23. 10 Tactics No Email Marketer Can Live Without
  24. The Top 10 Secrets of the World’s Most Successful E-Newsletters
  25. 10 Secrets Email Marketers Don’t Want You to Know
  26. 10 Tactics to Boost Your E-Newsletter’s Open and Click-through Rates
Vote here.

Addendum (4/6/2015): Preliminary results:

Addendum (4/13/2015): And the winner is...

Friday, April 3, 2015

How Many Shares Did That Article Draw?

These publishers make their stats public, which is smart, since it’s easier to join the bandwagon than to be blaze a new trail.



PR Daily



Fast Company


New York


Social Media Examiner

The Verge

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The 4 Key Words Every Headline Now Needs

1.     Meet

Meet the Man Who Will Replace Jon Stewart
The New York Post
Meet Trevor Noah, New Host of the Daily Show
Meet Trevor Noah: What We Know About Jon Stewart’s Daily Show Replacement
Meet Your New Host of the Daily Show
The New York Observer

2.     Who

Trevor Noah: Who Is He?
The Telegraph
Who Is Trevor Noah? 10 Things to Know About the Daily Show’s New Host
The National Post
Who Is Trevor Noah? A Look at His Comedy Show
CBS News
Who Is Trevor Noah, and How Will He Do As Jon Stewart’s Replacement on the Daily Show
The Washington Post
Who Is Trevor Noah? Get to Know the Next Daily Show Host
Entertainment Weekly
Who Is Trevor Noah? New the Daily Show Host’s Best Jokes, Tweets
The International Business Times
Who’s Trevor Noah? Want to Know About the New Daily Show Host
Your New Host of the Daily Is Trevor Noah. Who?

3.     Know

Everything to Know About Trevor Noah, Jon Stewart’s Successor
The Daily Beast
Everything We Know About Trevor Noah, the Daily Show’s New Host
Get to Know Your New Daily Show Host
Vanity Fair
Get to Know Trevor Noah Through Instagram
The Wall Street Journal
The Daily Show Trevor Noah: 5 Things to Know About Him
ABC News
Want to Know About the New Daily Show Host Trevor Noah
What to Know About Trevor Noah, New Host of the Daily Show

4.     Need

25 Things You Need to Know About Trevor Noah
The New York Daily News
Everything You Need to Know About Trevor Noah, the New Daily Show Host
Here’s What You Need to Know About New Daily Show Host Trevor Noah

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute

“For years, search-engine optimization, or S.E.O., has turned web pages into Googlebait. These days, optimizers of squeeze pages, drawing lessons as much from the labcoats at Optimizely as from the big daddies at Google, recommend creating a three-to-10 minute video that’s introduced by a ‘magnetic headline’ (‘Find the Perfect Lampshade for Any Lamp’) and quickly chase it with an ‘information gap’ like ‘You’re Not Going to Believe the Trick I Use While Lampshade Shopping.’ (Article of faith among optimizers: humans find information gaps intolerable and will move heaven and earth to close them.) Next you get specific: ‘Click the play button to see me do my lampshade trick!’—after which the video unspools, only to stall at the midpoint with a virtual tollbooth. You can’t go on unless you hand over an email address. Presto.”

Virginia Heffernan

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Amazon’s Customer Service Keeps Getting Better and Better

March 17, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Do you carry this product (Apple’s leather case for the iPhone 6 Plus) in white? Thank you.

March 17, 2015 at 4:00 PM[1]

I do understand your concern that you’re interested in this item.[2]

Unfortunately, we don’t have any more stock of the case in white color right now,[3] and we’re not sure when we’ll be able to get more.[4]

In this case, we’re waiting to receive more inventory of this item from the manufacturers directly instead from our reliance suppliers.[5]

I’ve passed your message to the appropriate department in our company for consideration so that they can make arrangements to avail this item.[5]

I’d suggest checking our website from time to time to see if this item is available. If anyone is selling it, you’ll see a “More Buying Choices” box on the product detail page.[6]

You might also want to check our international sites ( to see if the item is available. Orders placed at these sites cannot be combined with orders and will also be shipped from outside the U.S., so international shipping costs will apply.[7]

Thanks for your patience and understanding. We hope to see you again soon.

Best regards,
Nijan R[8]

1. Wow that was quick!

2. Restates my problem.

3. Bottom-line up front.

4. Preemptively answers my first follow-up question.

5. Explanation.

6. Alternative solution.

7. Another alternative solution.

8. Name


Thank you for contacting Amazon seller support.

From your email, I do understand your concern regarding ASIN B002GHBUTK.[1] I deeply regret any inconvenience caused to you with this regard.[2]

Upon reviewing this ASIN, I found that these are restricted by our Business team. These products have been restricted based on reports that some customers have received products that are inconsistent with the product detail pages.[3] Due to the nature of this restriction, Seller Support cannot provide further information or approve requests to list.[4]

To ensure buyer satisfaction we occasionally restrict the sales of certain products to pre-approved sellers. Although certain sellers may be listing these items, Amazon is not accepting new offers at this time.

While we do not have a specific date when we expect these restrictions to be lifted, these restrictions are intended to be temporary in nature.[5]

Unfortunately at this time we do not have a way to appeal this decision, nor is there a way to apply for approval to list this item. I am very sorry for any inconvenience this causes you.[6]

These decisions are taken by our Business team at a higher level where Seller Support does not have any insight into, hence I am unable to provide further information related to the restriction.[7]

While I truly want to help you in this situation,[8] please know that we at seller support do not have authority to influence or make immediate changes to the currently existing policy and service terms as these are implemented by Business team.[9]

I understand that this might be frustrating and may cause inconvenience to you. I deeply empathize with your situation and request your understanding and co-operation for this.[10]

Again I sincerely apologize for the little information I was able to provide you regarding this issue. If there was more I could provide I would, but we at Seller Support do not have that information due to factors out of our control.[11]

Please note that we will also try to get in touch with you to discuss the issue.

Thank you for selling with Amazon,

Vinod Nukapur[12] Seller Support

1. Identifies the product about which I’m inquiring.

2. Apology.

3. Explanation.

4. Our hands are tied.

5. Silver lining.

6. Our hands are tied.

7. Our hands are tied.

8. Empathy.

9. Our hands are tied.

10. Apology and empathy.

11. Apology and empathy.

12. Name