Pitching your story is all about convincing editors to publish your work. You need to catch their interest and make them care. And quickly. But articulating what your story is about and why it’s valuable for audiences can be harder than it sounds. Follow these steps to nail it.
Your pitch should be a few short and sharp sentences that tell editors exactly what they can expect from your story and how it will be told.
Think about these questions when pitching:
• What message or feeling are you trying to convey?
• Why is it suitable for the publication you’re pitching to?
• What value does your story have for the publication’s audience?
• Is it an original idea or approach to an idea?
• Why are you the best person to tell the story?
• Have you done your research?
• Has this story been covered by the publication already?
• Is it timely and relevant?
Make sure you cover other relevant details as well, such as the medium (for example written story, video, photo essay), the proposed word count or length, and any deadline considerations, particularly for interviews.
Pitch a story, not a topic
“Mental health” is a topic. “A young gamer struggling with anxiety found that playing Dungeons & Dragons gave them a routine, helped them open up, and come to terms with their own mental illness” is a story. Be specific.
Megan Greenwell, features editor at Esquire, says “so many pitches mention that a person saw ‘many challenges,’ but the story IS the challenges. You must know how to frame your story.”
Know who you’re pitching to
Read the publication. If they have submission guidelines publicly available, make sure your pitch aligns with them. You need to tell the editor why your story is best for their publication. Explain how your pitch fills a gap in their coverage, where it fits in its key themes and content categories, and how it presents a unique perspective or angle that its audience will be interested in.
Does your idea pass the pub(lic) test?
The pub test is an idea that has evolved over time. Generally, it’s a way for journalists, politicians and other public figures to evaluate the thoughts and opinions of everyday Australians and assess whether communications about a particular issue are clear enough for the average member of the public to understand.
We like to think of it more as the public test. It’s a great way to consider whether your pitch successfully summarises your most compelling points. Think about how you would explain your story to a stranger in the street. What language would you use? Why should they care? Tell a mate. If they understand your idea enough that they can clearly pitch it back to you, then you’ve passed the pub test and your pitch is far more likely to grab the attention of editors.
Now you’re ready to pitch us!
The FYA Newsroom takes pitches about education, work, life and culture, and opinion pieces across a range of multimedia. Take a look at our guidelines, and send your pitches to Izzy and Law at firstname.lastname@example.org.