OK, so I’d chosen to buy Time Magazine because the title “Who really decides which flights get canceled?” had intrigued me and made me curious. But, how did reporter Bill Saporito structure the article itself to keep me reading through a four-page, small-print article? And what can we freelance blog content writers learn about keeping online readers engaged?
As a prelude to the article “Mission Impossible”, the magazine served up a giant visual showing the American Airlines Integrated Operations Control Center outside Dallas, with labels for the key players in an flight cancellation decision: the Manager on Duty, the Repair expediter, the Maintenance controller, the Jet specialist, etc. While the picture didn’t live up to the expectation of some inside secret that the word “really” had conjured up, it certainly went a long way towards helping me visualize the enormity and urgency of the flight cancellation process.
Fellow blogger Michael Fortin believes most blogs would be strengthened by a visual representation of the product, the business, the person, the quality, the claims, or more importantly, the benefits of the product or service.
The journalist opens with an anecdote, immediately humanizing the narrative and making it more relatable to readers. “Tim Campbell, senior vice president of air operations for American Airlines, is staring at a diagram of the Charlotte, N.C. airport,” Saporito begins.
Stories of all kinds (“case studies”, customer testimonials, famous incidents from the news, Hollywood, folklore – you name it) help personalize a business blog. Even if a professional ghost blogger is doing most of the writing, employees and customers can provide true-story material.
Now, having set the stage, Saporito gets to the down-and-dirty implied in the “really” title:
“But the weather alone does not explain why on any given day, tens of thousands of passengers may find themselves stranded…” Explaining the vast complexity of the issues surrounding crew scheduling concerns, backup jet scheduling and placement, passenger reimbursements, safety issues, and on and on takes up the remainder of the thousands-of-words-long article.
My question has been answered, though. Who or what is really is in control? It’s the Cancellator, a computer algorithm that “weighs which flights can be shelved while keeping an airline’s schedule as whole as possible.”
As a business blog post, of course “Airport Confidential” would violate some of the rules I teach newbie blog content writers: It’s much too long, and the primary focus isn’t on the need of the reader..
What this very well-written piece of journalism did accomplish, of course, was getting me, the prospective reader to “click” by buying the magazine and then keeping me interested through the entire article!