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Copywriting Secrets of The National Enquirer

Published by: David Garfinkel on 01-04-2021

I saw this article on the website:

“Whatever Happened to the National Enquirer?”

For years, the Enquirer was a go-to resource for many copywriters, including me.

Quoting from the article:

“For decades, the Enquirers’s circulation was in the millions.” But in recent times, the article says, quoting journalist Lloyd Grove, “its circulation consistently plunged, year after year.”

Grove blames the Internet for the Enquirer’s death spiral. It couldn’t speed up to adjust to the rhythm of the Internet, among other things. There’s a lot of political intrigue behind what happened, too. What’s most interesting to me, though, is the Enquirer before its fall.

What I learned from it back in the day… and how those lessons apply so powerfully to copywriting, even today.

One reason I liked the Enquirer so much was because they published a story about me.

The headline for that story was particularly interesting. They quoted me saying something I never actually said:

“I owe my success to the Enquirer… says leading ad exec!”

Personally, I didn’t get all that upset that they twisted the story that way.

But my mother did.

“You don’t owe your success to them -- you owe it me!” she bellowed.

Thankfully, Mom got over it.

Besides the fact that they gave me nice press coverage, the main reason I liked the Enquirer so much was because of their approach to writing, and we’ll get into that in a minute.

But I want to say something else first. One really great thing about the Enquirer, back in the day, was that reading it let you take the temperature, so to speak, of the popular culture.

I stopped reading it a few years ago because the content changed. First, it became too political, in a really nasty way. Second, they stopped doing what was known in-house as “aspirational stories” -- anything positive or inspiring. They used to do that a lot, but they hardly do that at all anymore.

It stopped being fun to read.

So today’s show is about the National Enquirer of days gone by -- lessons that are still valid and valuable for copywriters today.

I organized this show into three parts:

1. National Enquirer Headlines - a unique approach, that made stories all but irresistible to read

2. How National Enquirer stories were put together - using a time-tested method that I’ve never heard any other experienced copywriter talk about

3. Four National Enquirer writing secrets at the most basic level - these are easy to do, and very powerful, but most people don’t use them most of the time.

Keywords: tabloid copywriting

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