“Annie Get Your Checkbook”, the title of an Indianapolis Star feature article last month, reminded me of something blog content writers need to keep in mind when it comes to using pop culture references.
The newspaper story was about an auction at which 100 or so items that had once belonged to 1880’s sharpshooter Annie Oakley would be up for sale. I “got” the title, which was alluding to the movie and Broadway show “Annie Get Your Gun.” As a girl of around 5 or 6, I remember my father buying me a recording of the song “Buttons and Bows”, which I would play over and over again (shows you how old I am!).
But, as a professional ghost blogger and corporate blogging trainer, I had to wonder – how many readers today would “get it”? Readers might find it just as easy for many to think of Orphan Annie and the show “Annie”, I realized. “Use pop culture references sparingly,” cautions Joanne Brooks of Helium.com, offering two main reasons why:
You want your work to have relevance several years from now.
Pop culture references can delay reading and cause you to lose your audience.
My own observation, based on working with Say It For You blogging clients from many different industries and professions, is that it’s a challenge to find the precise style of communication that will best connect with target readers. (While this is especially true in business-to-consumer blog content writing, even with suppliers and distributors, you want to avoid anything that is a barrier to understanding.) “Huh?” is hardly the reaction blog content writers aim to elicit in readers of any SEO marketing blog.
To be fair, newspaper readers are a different breed from today’s online searchers:
Demographically (I like that term better than the phrase “older”) we’d be more likely to understand the fifty-year-old reference
- In the way we process headlines (we don’t “click away” that quickly).
The point I want to stress to business owners and freelance content writers in Indianapolis is simply this: The clearer the words in the title are to the searcher, the easier it will be for them to engage, navigate, and transact.
In corporate blog copy writing, it’s a simple equation: If they don’t “get” Annie, they might never get their checkbooks!