An editor's favourite question
This is an oldie but a worth-stressing goodie. When it comes to identifying what is a good angle, a sensible criterion to use is whether yours satisfies editors’ favourite* question: why now?
Both words are important, but the second one is more so.
The reason “why” might be because your city or hotel or cottage is great. Simples, as the meerkats say. Thing is, it’ll probably be great in six months or two years, too. It was probably great last year and in 2019. What is so different that makes this present time (or, better yet, an imminent time) the optimal moment to talk about it? That’s the “now” part — the topicality.
The answers to this can vary. It might be a significant, game-changing addition or development. It might be a hot new trend — emphasis on the new; forest bathing does not quality. Perhaps it’s a related 25th, 50th or 100th anniversary. Or a major TV series shooting key or substantial scenes there. Or simply newly-released and unusual (this is key) product. These are all good hooks which satisfy the “why now?” question.
My next trip is a double header. Its first part will see me riding a heritage railway that features in two upcoming blockbuster films; after that, I’ll be touring handsome scenery which anchored a classic movie whose 50th anniversary is upcoming. Each angle attracted me thanks to its strong topicality.
Nearly every pitch I get satisfies the “why” but far fewer have a reason for “now” as well. This is easily overlooked — but really shouldn’t be.
*I say this, but, fine, no editor has ever actually posed that specific question to me. But I know they’re thinking it. I can tell…
What Richard Thinks…