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Tightening Up

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One time when I was working on shifts at a newspaper, the travel editor changed and I knew I ought to offer the new honcho some ideas in order to ensure my retention as a writer. Do you plan to keep doing the same kind of round-ups, I asked when we met for a canteen coffee? “Yes,” he replied, “but I want them tighter.”

“Got it,” I said, not getting it at all. “Er – actually, what does that mean?” More penny-pinching, I silently wondered? Nope: “tighter” turned out to mean pieces with a narrower bandwidth and, as such, target audience. So, rather than “20 great country hotels”, it might be “20 great country hotels for walkers”, or “20 great coastal country hotels”. Tighter.

I relate this anecdote because of a similar conversation had last week with Sarah Hartley of The Mail on Sunday – similar but much less embarrassing, thankfully. Fearing that she’ll have to run an inordinate amount of staycation pieces over the coming month, Sarah is keen to again narrow the focus. One of my rebuffed ideas, for instance, was for a round-up of “Britain’s most enchanting winter spots”. Instead, I’m to focus on one suggested element of that, waterfalls; I’m to write a round-up of the best winter waterfall walks.

My bet is that such an approach is not limited to the MOS. Thus, if you’re in the business of mooting round-up ideas to travel editors – e.g. “10 x this, including my client(s)” – then perhaps try to offer up a slightly less broad idea. A tighter idea.

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