This week, I heard from the owner of a Lake District hotel. “If you would ever like to come and visit,” they said, “we would love to host you.”
It’s a kind offer, but I would never visit without a commission. I don’t want to risk wasting my time or the hotel’s money, and I’d struggle to get a commission based on the limited info to hand. She told me that the hotel boasts characterful bedrooms and a great restaurant with local-sourced food – precisely what a thousand other UK hotels have, too.
I say this not to be snide, but to illustrate a point: were I to pitch a feature on this place, or – much likelier – to look to include it in a round-up, I’d need something else, something more, something which separated it from the crowd. I’d need a catchy USP (unique selling point).
It could relate to the hotel. Perhaps something historical: maybe Einstein discovered gravity while staying here (?!). It could be the only British building with an octagonal bedroom. Or the hook could be based on the local area. The regional strawberries may have won global awards. This might be the best domestic place to see otters. Jurgen Klopp comes here every summer. The local beach is Britain’s longest. The smallest details can work: get creative.
These digestible facts make all the difference. They render pitches easier to deliver, and they make round-up entries easier to write: when I receive ten Cornwall suggestions and can’t separate them out, such a fun detail wins the day as the entry is easiest to write. In journalistic terms, I have a ‘way in’.
Editors tell us freelancers that if we can’t summarise our angle in a single, snappy sentence, then it isn’t a good angle. I’d encourage you to adopt a similar logic to selling clients: discern what truly distinguishes them from their rivals, or pull out an alluring fact, and be ready to produce it for round-up submissions, journalist meetings or press-trip invites whenever needed. Better yet, have a few up your sleeve.