When it comes to pitching articles timing is very important.
Thanks to the internet we now expect our news to be up-to-the-second and the same goes for comment pieces and timely features. So as a journalist, you have to be constantly on the ball.
Spotted something in the news you’ve got something to say about? Draft a pitch and send it off straight away. Don’t sit on it, someone else might get there first or by the time you get round to putting words on the page it’s old news.
The same goes for timely features. Got an idea for a Christmas related piece, Mother’s Day or interesting charity story? Plan ahead and pitch your idea well in advance.
Someone approached me with their sob story of how they’d been trying to adopt for years but because of a complicated adoption process system they hadn’t been able to. It was a good real life story and she told me about it slap bang in the middle of National Adoption Week. Perfect right? Wrong. Too late.
Two weeks before and it might have been great but by the time I’d found out, all adoption coverage has already been sorted and the magazines and newspapers are finalising what they are going to fill their pages with next week.
Here is a list of all the themed days/weeks in the year.
You could write a feature on:
– Being Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Trans. It could be your experience, someone else’s or even better – three people with an interesting and themed story to tell for LGBT History Month in February
– A story about…being a cat on October 29
– A great grandmother, grandmother and mother story for Women’s History Month in March
– Or something about towels on May 25
You might have some better ideas.
Press Gazette sometimes have a list of the big diary stories of the week ahead, read this – it might give you some news hooks for comment pieces that you can pitch in advance or straight after, getting you well ahead of the game.
The Guardians open newslist is also very useful for this. It lists the stories they are working on based on events coming up – again you can get ahead of the news.
The TV guide is another great tool. Take a look at what documentaries are going to be shown, perhaps there is going to be a big expose that you have an insider’s take on or know someone who does? Or maybe there’s a new reality TV show starting and you have a strong opinion about the concept (e.g. there has been some negative feelings around ‘The Undateables’ – this opinion could be a comment piece about why you disagree with it, think about the media backlash on the ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’ series).
Sometimes it’s the news hook, or theme that could make that article idea that usually wouldn’t fit within a publication perfect as a one off. So all these dates/themes/occasions are just more opportunities to get something published. The more pitches you send the greater your chance that one of them will get a yes.
If you’ve just missed it, don’t panic. There is always next year so keep a diary of ideas.
One of the most frustrating kick yourself no’s you can get to an article idea is: ‘good idea but too late’.
Don’t miss the boat.