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Should I Go Negative on Taylor Hicks?


The internet is an equalizer, I think.  The computer offers a voice to anyone with a keyboard and an opinion to share.  There is opportunity, but no guarantee.  Some voices are louder than others, and it’s often difficult to be heard above the clamor.

There is pleasure in the simple act of writing and publishing a blog.  There is a sense of satisfaction when I feel that a phrase has been well turned, when the words flow easily in sequence.  That said, I’m not writing a diary.  I’m writing with purpose, and in the hope that others will read and enjoy what I’ve written, and perhaps seek out the artists/music I’ve presented.

During the first six months of the blog, I’ve learned a few empirical truths about writing and marketing.  Much of what I’ve learned has come from trial and error, and even more through the generous counsel of other bloggers.

I’d like to share some of my lessons learned through comparative examples.

A Tale of Two Blogs or The Power of Negativity


Last October I posted “Taylor Hicks and Marilyn Monroe: A Photographer’s Story“, a news story with promotional intent (Taylorhicksnews on tap blog).  In January, Harris Decker published “Opinion: How Taylor Hicks Ruined American Idol“, personal commentary based on statistical review (The Truth about Music blog).

My article pulled 420 views the first day, 1260 views in the first three weeks.  Harris’ article pulled 500 views the first day, 815 views in the first three weeks.  The news story prompted 14 comments from readers; the editorial elicited 78 comments.  There were approximately 20 “tweets” about my post in the first day or two; Harris received 80 twitter replies to his post, many with angry/negative tone.

My post was 4 months from concept to publication by the time interviews and necessary approvals were obtained; the post was rewritten 3 times.  Harris devoted one day to research/analysis and forty-five minutes to writing.


I consider both of these blog posts to be successful with regard to generating interest/views and comments.  Clearly, Harris’ post was much more successful in encouraging reader interaction.


1.  Negative headlines attract attention.

When asked about his attention getting headline, Harris had this to say, “I actually spent an entire year as an entertainment editor for a college newspaper, writing headlines for every single article in the section. While I hated it at first, I grew to love it. In the past, I’ve used headlines like: “Katy Perry, Please Go Away, You Aren’t Loved (Anymore)” or “Indie Music Fans Think They Are Special, Here’s Why They’re Not.” I know that a dramatic over the top headline will spark interest…”.

2.  Negative content evokes emotion and generates views/comments.

In discussing his post, Harris offered “I’ve learned over the three years of writing this blog that negative articles always do better than positive ones. I can’t say that I was going for this emotional chord in this case but you certainly couldn’t put it past me.”  Harris also voiced surprise at the well of support for Mr. Hicks that erupted within minutes of his blog’s posting.

3.  Effort is no guarantee of success.

There is at best a weak correlation between time and effort spent on a post and the eventual success of that post.

4.  Readers play a critical role.

By reading and then sharing a post, readers play an important role in its success.  By commenting upon or discussing an article on social media sites, the reader encourages others to visit the blog.  In this respect, positive and negative comments are nearly equivalent.  Both bring more attention to the post and help the post to remain visible on internet search engines.  Negative comments may actually prove more useful as curiosity drives readers to the post.

Through their actions, readers also provide feedback that guides future post selection.  When articles garner a large number of comments, tweets and/or reposts, then the blogger is encouraged to provide more of the same.

A Tale of Two Posts or Animals Rule Humans











One of these photos received far more views than the other.  In a July 2010 post “Doggone Smart: Curry, Rob, and Taylor“, the Glen of Imaal terrier was the focus of nearly 50% of the comments posted.

A New Year’s Eve post that featured little in the way of new blog content but that included a photo of a squinting cat received an embarrassingly large number of views.


Readers prefer cute animals to humans.  It is unclear if a boa constrictor would have yielded the same result.


1.  Animals enhance blog views.

The perfect headline would marry negativity with a handsome animal while still advancing the blog’s viewpoint.

2.  I missed my chance.

It was there, if I had only known then what I know now.

The headline that could have been:

“Hound Dog Pans Taylor Hicks Performance”

The First 6 Months: The Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned

1.  There’s more to learn.

I’ve read many blogs on a variety of topics over the past several months.  Most of these were written by authors with far more experience and skill than I.  I look forward to learning and improving.

2.  I have my own voice.

Singers have their own unique style; so do writers.  My style is my own and it’s here to stay.  Over the last 6 months I’ve developed a fair understanding of what I can and can’t do.  I can’t do negative effectively.  While the blog may occasionally tease with a negative headline, the content is unlikely to run that way.  It’s a personal and stylistic choice, not an indictment of other bloggers.  The artists presented here are those who entertain me; I’m grateful for their efforts.



The truth about Harris’ blog is that most of the posts are well written with a neutral/positive slant.  Here’s the link to his blog.  Leave him 78 comments on a post that you like; chances are you’ll get more of the same.

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Louise #

    Very, very interesting! Music reporters should do their homework on artists rather than going for the jugular to garner views. Given the right focus, an article can be positive and gain views. Curry and Rob prove that!
    Thanks for writing this. It’s excellent!

    March 8, 2011
    • Thank you, Louise. It’s interesting to learn how writers draw interest and convince readers to slog through text that is more than 140 characters long!

      March 8, 2011
      • Louise #

        Being a fan has been a whole new education the least of which is identifying negative press and staying away from the negative forces. We’ve learned so much since 2006 and we continue to learn and grow in ways that amaze me every day. Thanks to the positive attitude Taylor projects and the excellent essays that lead us to be introspective and reflect on how we behave.

        March 8, 2011
  2. tishtx #

    Bravo! I’d admire your initiative to learn a new craft.

    “Readers prefer cute animals to humans. It is unclear if a boa constrictor would have yielded the same result.”

    LOL, I’ve got to say that I go for the humorous parts, but that’s just me. By the way, I wasn’t one of the Curry viewers. 🙂

    March 8, 2011
  3. V- #

    hear hear! Its a sad commentary on humans that they enjoy negativity so much more than positive energy. Those of us who know better should take time to comment, as you said on *positive* things and blogs and to comment more on those, maybe the others will pick up the queue. One of the things I have always found striking at Taylors concerts is the amount of positive energy he and his band, and their music emanate. Its a sorry fact that for some reason, many feel they need to attack things and people that give off positive energy. I dont know if they feel threatened by it or what. But goodness knows we need all the positivity we can get in these times. Thanks for speaking up for positive energy and for Taylor! 😀

    March 8, 2011
    • Thanks for your comment, V.! It is interesting, though, how we are all drawn to negativity. The tabloid headlines show what sells, and even here on wordpress the “Failed” blog is among the top viewed on a daily basis. What do you think, should we start a “Winning” blog? Maybe a failed actor would sign on to support us?!

      March 8, 2011
  4. NolaMar #

    It’s a shame that negativity pays off. It’s a sad fact that Taylor’s fans especially reward the naysayers more than anybody in their loyal desire to defend him against criticism. I never clicked on that link once & refuse to read or post in places that focus on attacking people for the sake of hits & publicity. OK, so I admit to doing it a time or two, but I’ve learned my lesson. 🙂

    You’ve done a great job here, & done it WITHOUT negativity. This was very interesting, and humorous. Now we know you should add rotating pictures of adorable kitties & puppies in your banner! LOL Or do more dog articles.

    March 8, 2011
    • Oh, don’t you worry, NolaMar. The animals are lined up and waiting their turn. Got a nice eagle ready to go….

      March 8, 2011
  5. san #

    Thanks for an insightful blog. It is always a shame when negativity wins. You have to define “winning” though! I am all for continuing to support the positive wherever and whenever we can especially where it concerns Mr. Hicks!

    I KNEW the final picture that was coming before I saw it! “Taylor Hicks Meets the Toughest Crowd in Texas!” Burt judged that American Idol in true Simon tradition! Priceless!

    Thanks for giving us more than 140 characters.

    March 8, 2011
  6. Great article!! Glad to see that you were able to use the information I provided. Really enjoyed reading your take on the two similar articles. Thanks again for thinking to include me in this!!

    March 8, 2011
    • Appreciate your help, Harris! Have been enjoying the write-ups on your blog; you certainly have a fresh take on Charlie Sheen! Let me know when you’re ready to catch the American Idol season 5 winner in concert. Might be fun to do a joint venture.

      March 8, 2011
  7. Dee #

    Look – what I’e learned is that Taylor Hicks for whatever reason is a difficult subject. I personally love him and can’t see or listen to him quite enough – I rarely make comments on these things – but hasn’t he been bashed enough? He seems like a very nice person who I think is very attractive and talented, but he sure brings out the worst in some people.. why? I don’t know. But he needs a little friendly or at least not hateful articles/posts. What exactly did this guy do to anyone??? Well – if he were playing in a small bar somewhere I’d go for sure – Idol kinda killed him – not the other way around .. he would have been better off had he not won.. I’m a fan and that’s that…

    March 8, 2011
    • Thanks for your comment, Dee.

      I don’t mind those articles that express a valid opinion that is different than mine, for example a reviewer who thought the song and the singer were not a fit, or that the singer didn’t adequately interpret the song. What upsets me are the gratuitious, snide remarks that are often used in entertainment news, even in the mainstream press.

      It’s those writers with whom I take issue. I recently sent an email to a newspaper writer who chose to belittle an artist in the context of a concert announcement to ask him “Why?”. I didn’t expect, nor did I receive, a response, but I felt better for having asked the question.

      March 8, 2011
  8. Well, this headline was certainly intriguing!

    I have no idea why bad news attracts more interest than good news, but it’s certainly true. I would never write a negative blog post or article just to get views, though.

    Just keep doing what you do and do it the best you can. That’s all you can do. Do. (Had to add one more ‘do’ cuz I didn’t think I used the word enough. ha!)

    March 8, 2011
  9. juliegr #

    When I reached the end of your blog, I discovered you already reached the same conclusion I was about to suggest — lead with a negative headline (or hook) and you’ll get many more people checking in and perhaps ultimately commenting. However, I know you well enough to say that you won’t be happy with your product if the content isn’t true to what you believe!

    Thanks for all you do.

    March 8, 2011

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