How to pitch a winning story in a heatwave?
I write in the middle of a heatwave, a can of cooling mist to my left and the world’s fugliest air conditioning unit to my right.
But it’s not just the weather that’s making me feel hot under the collar: it’s the deluge of emails I’ve been sent offering advice thinly masquerading as product promotion about how to stay cool when the mercury rises.
As hooks go, it’s an unavoidable one. I’ve been tasked with writing about the issue on many occasions during my time as a newspaper fashion editor. But I like to think I used more imagination than to suggest my readers wore fewer layers – as per what I was pitched by one PR this week. How to pitch a winning story in a heatwave? Ditch prosaic, obvious advice and focus on surprising statistics (such as the cost of running an air conditioning unit – that one stopped me in my tracks) or product efficacy instead. As someone whose beat is fashion and lifestyle, I’m always interested in what’s selling – colours, styles – particularly if it’s surprising. Likewise if any unexpected micro-trends have been spotted: weird sandals, a preponderance of yellow dresses. Visuals to support these are always appreciated. With staff cuts sweeping through all media outlets, don’t underestimate how little time or manpower there is to devote to finding pictures.
Do the hard work for a journalist, and they’ll be super-grateful.
What Laura Thinks…