Five Tips to Help Freelance Writers Stress Story Value in Pitches

33973r

Resumes and pitch letters have a lot in common. For freelance writers, a well-written pitch letter with a solid story idea yields a writing assignment. And a tight and terse resume that successfully sells a job candidate results in a job interview. The critical common ingredient in both successful pitch letters and resumes is value – the power-packed word that means importance, usefulness, relevance and significance.

Resumes and pitch letters that fail to communicate value within seconds are trashed.

Successful freelance writers who consistently score writing jobs have learned how to persuasively stress the value of the content they’re trying to sell in their pitch letters. Embellished with carefully chosen sentences, practically every phrase drives home the value of the story the writer proposes.

Here are five tips that can help you focus on and stress value in every pitch letter you write:

1. Understand market. Heading the list is knowledge of the market’s demographics.  Before you can think about writing a pitch letter, find  the answers to these questions: Who are the readers (age, sex,  education), and what kind of information do they want? Rather than skim a couple of articles,  read several so that you have a strong feeling for content.  Get a sense of the publication’s editorial mission and philosophy.   If it’s an online magazine or newsletter, the “About” page ought to explain it.  Many mission statements also provide information about  the publication’s readers.

2. Topic relevance. Will the subject immediately draw readers?  Once the market niche is understood,  search for stories that are specific – I stress specific — to this market.  If you find yourself justifying a story’s relevance, abort and find another story. There should be no doubt about a topic’s relevance.  Check to see if topic was covered before.  If it’s a popular topic, there’s a good chance that it was already written about.  But that doesn’t mean your story isn’t viable. The topic could have been covered two years ago; or it may be so broad or complex, there are several angles, all of which are important.  Along with making a strong case for your story, you’ll also score points with your editor. He or she will appreciate the fact that you did your homework.  And if the topic was covered, you’ve positioned the story so that it’s fresh and new.

3. Timeliness. The more timely and relevant the subject matter the better. What with readers’ bombarded with information from countless vehicles,  information must be fresh and offer new insights.   The timeliness of a story can’t be stressed enough, especially if there are several competing publications in the market.  The Internet explosion has created content wars, and virtually every editor is hungry for timely stories.  When I edited newspapers and online news sites, my best writers understood the impact of timely stories.  My freelancers knew that breaking news stories were the best and fastest ways to win immediate points.
4. Benefit. In some way, readers ought to benefit from the information the writer is imparting.  Regardless of the market, story pitches must spotlight the story’s importance for readers.  In how-to, DIY, and self-help publications, online or print, the benefit for readers is particularly important.

5. Advice. Great information is valuable by itself. But the topper is leaving readers with a takeaway – helpful, easy-to-implement advice or tips they can use or adapt.  The advice section, which usually falls at the end of a story, is vitally important because it not only summarizes and ties the story together, but it also tells readers  how to apply  the information and where to learn more.

BONUS: A powerful working head  

Finally, the selling topper – the icing on the proverbial cake – is a strong, provocative head that immediately piques an editor’s interest. More likely than not, the editor will change it (Most editors, including myself, are obsessive about coming up with power-packed heads that instantly snare readers).  Most importantly,  the working head must capture the story’s essence. Coming up with great heads isn’t easy. But they’re worth the effort, because it tells editors that you’ve worked hard to deliver a strong, substantial, and well-conceived story pitch.

Jobs of the Day: NPR Tech Reporter, Wine Journalist, Reuters Bureau Chief, Entertainment Blogger

29042r

Want a new journalism job? Sure you do! We’ve been combing the interwebs today to provide you with new journalism and media opportunities. Today, we have some jobs for techies, entertainment junkies, and lovers of the good life. Whether you’re interested in heading up a news bureau or drinking wine for a living, we’ve got some sweet opportunities on our Jobs of the Day:

Reuters, Bureau Chief, U.S. Southeast & Caribbean – Miami
Reuters is looking for a superb writer and manager to run the Southeastern United States and Caribbean, one of the busiest regions in the world for general news stories that are of importance to clients across the asset classes. From covering hurricanes and earthquakes to space missions, Koran-burning pastors and international fraudsters, the southeast U.S. and Caribbean beat offers one of the most varied and busy files in Reuters Americas, including fast-breaking spot news and opportunities for “deep-dive” investigative stories. In “Sunshine State” Florida, huge wealth, high finance and financial fraud often go hand in hand and in recent years the territory has loomed large in some of the world’s biggest and most notorious fraud scandals — Bernard Madoff’s victims included many of his Palm Beach neighbors, while Texas billionaire Allen Stanford is accused of using Florida and the Caribbean island of Antigua as hubs for the $7 billion Ponzi scheme he was charged with operating. Florida is also a key political swing state in what is already shaping up to be a hard-fought 2012 U.S. presidential election. Miami’s varied file includes covering political developments and natural disasters in a string of Caribbean states from Cuba and to Trinidad and Haiti’s 2010 earthquake was Reuters Story of the Year. The bureau oversees the file from Cuba where the cautious reforms and advancing age of the leaders of the Cuban Revolution is setting up one of the most fascinating international political stories in decades.

 

Reporter/Correspondent, Business-National Desk

The National Desk is seeking a Reporter/Correspondent to cover technology from Silicon Valley. This is a high profile business reporting position that will focus on information technology, innovation and the Internet. The successful candidate will cover globally influential companies based in Silicon Valley and will report on the myriad ways technology affects the US economy and its citizens. The successful candidate will develop sources inside and outside of the industry and is expected to produce stories as well about privacy, social media, venture capital and cyber-security. A thorough knowledge of technology and high level reporting and storytelling skills are essential. Radio experience and a proven track record in covering technology are strongly preferred. The selected candidate will report on air for NPR shows and newscast segments, and online for NPR.org.

Wine Industry Journalist

Wines & Vines, a leading wine industry magazine based in San Rafael, Calif., seeks an experienced journalist and technical writer to fill a full-time staff writer position in our office. We need a self-starting, team-playing reporter who knows and loves the wine industry, to write business news, product news, lead our social media writing efforts, and most importantly research and write in-depth technical articles on winery and vineyard equipment and processes. For monthly print magazine, daily news website and digital editions.

The ideal candidate has a bachelor’s degree or more, at least five years of journalism experience, and a scientific/engineering bent as well as excellent writing skills. He or she has also spent enough time in vineyards, wineries or industry supplier companies to understand our target readers, who work in grape and wine production. The winning candidate enjoys learning more about winery technology, enology and viticulture.(via writerjobs)

Entertainment News Writer

A multimedia entertainment news website, Hollywire.com is seeking a dedicated, pop culture savvy writer to join our team!

Qualifications:
• Journalism Degree or background
• Knowledgeable of AP Style guidelines
• Proficient in spelling, grammar, and punctuation

Ideal Candidate:
• Previous writing experience
• Dedicated
• Must be a team player
• Must be willing to drive in the LA area to attend red carpet events to take pictures and collect sound bytes for editorial content
• Must be in-the-know about Young Hollywood and all aspects of the entertainment industry

Grants and Jobs of the Day: Dow Jones, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Tribeca Film Festival

8d22738r

Looking for some new opportunities? We’ve been scouring the internet today to provide you with new journalism opportunities and grants to make your projects into a reality. Today we have some jobs and grants that are sure to pique your interest. From Ohio to Oregon to New York City, here are today’s job and grants list:

Jobs

Announcer – Oregon Public Broadcasting

OPB seeks an Announcer to serve as OPB Radio’s primary weeknight announcer. This non-exempt regular status position is part-time and includes a salary and benefits.

Primary Duties/Responsibilities: This position announces program continuity and monitors OPB radio broadcasts during shift, responding to any concerns or problems associated with broadcast audio/content. They respond to emergency and technical situations. The position requires preparation and on-air delivery of newsbreaks and weather and may include preparation and delivery of hourly newscasts and traffic. They serve as a part of OPB’s on-air fundraising team and may fill-in for absent announcing staff, when necessary.

Director of Communications and Content – Ohio Newspaper Association

“The Ohio Newspaper Association, the trade association for more than 300 Ohio newspapers and affiliated websites, seeks someone to direct member communications, manage multiple websites and lead its social media initiatives. It’s a great position for someone who wants to make a difference for Ohio and gets excited about the future of media.

The ideal candidate will combine strong technical skills with a background in journalism, marketing or public relations. The position involves writing, editing, Web development, use of databases, social media tools and design of marketing materials. Content is deployed across multiple platforms for the association as well as the Ohio Newspapers Foundation, the Ohio Coalition for Open Government and our for‐profit affiliate, AdOhio. The communications director also is directly involved in development of member programs and training seminars.”

Financial Services Editor – Dow Jones

Dow Jones Newswires is seeking an experienced editor to manage a dedicated group of U.S. reporters and investigative technical writers covering the financial services industry . Candidates should have proven experience in real-time financial journalism, strong writing skills and a keen eye for finding news in the investment banks, commercial banks, insurance, hedge funds and consumer finance industries. Experience managing a dynamic group of journalists is desirable as is the ability to balance breaking news stories with big-picture thematic pieces. The team writes for Dow Jones Newswires as well as the online and print editions of The Wall Street Journal.   Applicants should attach a resume, cover letter and three to five clips to the application. The position is based in New York City. (Via Gorkana)

Reporter – Dow Jones

The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires are looking for a reporter based in its NYC office to cover emerging markets with an emphasis on foreign exchange. Duties involve close coverage of developing country sovereign and corporate debt, equities and currencies, as well as economic issues, both at the country and regional levels. Coverage often focuses on the BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India and China – grouping.

Experience covering emerging markets and/or foreign exchange markets is desirable. Language skills – Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, or Russian – are desirable, though not required. The reporter needs to be a quick, clean writer with strong analytical skills, able to cover fast-moving markets and events with market-moving speakers, and capable of producing insightful, informative features. (via Gorkana)

GRANTS:

Tribeca Film Institute & Heineken Voces Grant:

  • Supports Latin American artists living in the U.S. and working on feature-length narrative and documentary projects that offer new perspectives on their cultural experiences.
  • Project Status – For narratives: films at any stage of production from treatment to rough cut. For documentaries: films in the advanced stages of development, production and/or post-production.
  • Region: For Latino filmmakers based in the United States
  • Funding: Two $10,000 grants being awarded (for one feature narrative and one feature documentary)

Interested in applying for the Heineken Voces grant? Check out apply.tribecafilminstitute.org — deadline’s October 10th.

50 Journalists and Bloggers to Follow On Facebook ‘Subscribe’

FacebookLogo

By now you’ve probably heard about Facebook’s new Subscribe button, which allows you to follow journalist and web content writers that you respect on Facebook. It essentially works like Twitter, feeding your information cravings with a healthy helping of news and views. But who do you subscribe to? Today, Facebook’s journalism program manager Vadim Lavrusik provided a jumping off point for “subscribe” newbies, and listed 50 journalists and bloggers who are available for subscriptions.

With the launch of Subscribe last week, we wanted to show an example of some journalists who are using Subscribe to enable readers and viewers to keep up with their public updates and also subscribe to sources they are interested in keeping up with.

To help you satiate your own media diet, we’ve published his list below so you can start subscribing right away!

To turn on Subscribe, go to https://www.facebook.com/about/subscribe.

  1. Ann Curry, TODAY Show/NBC News
  2. Brian Stelter, reporter at The New York Times
  3. Ayman Mohyeldin, NBC News, Egypt Correspondent
  4. Elizabeth Spiers, editor of The New York Observer
  5. Brian Storm, executive producer at MediaStorm
  6. Craig Kanalley, Huffington Post, senior traffic and trends editor
  7. Esther Vargas, editor at Peru21
  8. Pete Cashmore, CEO and founder of Mashable, CNN columnist
  9. Anthony De Rosa, Social Media Editor at Reuters
  10. Saul Hansell, Big News Editor at Huffington Post.
  11. Liz Gannes, AllThingsD reporter
  12. Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist
  13. Robert Scoble, Scobleizer
  14. Nick Bilton, The New York Times reporter and lead technology writer
  15. Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media
  16. Jenna Wortham, New York Times reporter
  17. Franz Strasser, video journalist at BBC News
  18. Om Malik, founder of GigaOmniMedia
  19. Jessica Vascellaro, Wall Street Journal repoter
  20. Jeff Jarvis, CUNY prof, writer
  21. Mathew Ingram, GigaOm writer
  22. MG Siegler, writer at TechCrunch
  23. Ben Parr, Editor at Large at Mashable
  24. Bilal Randere, Online Producer at Al Jazeera
  25. Laurie Segall, CNN Money producer
  26. Daniela Capistrano, Online Producer at “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”
  27. Mark Milian, reporter at CNN.com
  28. Jason Kincaid, TechCrunch
  29. Brian Ries, The Daily Beast social media editor
  30. Jenn Van Grove, senior reporter at Mashable
  31. Liz Heron, The New York Times, social media editor
  32. Jason DeRusha, WCCO reporter/anchor
  33. Walt Mossberg, AllThingsd columnist
  34. Amanda Zamora, Washington Post, social media & engagement editor
  35. Gregory Korte, reporter at USA Today
  36. Jen Lee Reeves, Interactive Director at KOMU
  37. Martin Beck, Los Angeles Times engagement editor
  38. P. Kim Bui, KPCC Social Media Editor
  39. Alexander B. Howard, Gov. 2.0 Washington Correspondent at O’Reilly Media: https://www.facebook.com/alexhoward
  40. Doug Crets, tech blogger at RWW
  41. Jeff Sonderman, Poynter writer
  42. Patrick Witty, international picture editor at TIME
  43. Tyson Evans, assistant editor of interactive news at The New York Times
  44. Mark W. Smith, web editor and columnist at Detroit Free Press.
  45. Irina Slutsky, reporter at Age Age
  46. Dan Ackerman, senior editor at CNET
  47. Paul Takahashi, multimedia journalist at the Las Vegas Sun
  48. Rosa Golijan, contributing writer at MSNBC
  49. Jim MacMillan, journalist in residence for War News Radio at Swarthmore College
  50. Dan Petty, social media editor at The Denver Post

Why You Need a Writing Mentor and Where to Find One

3b16501r

No matter where you are in your freelancing career, everyone needs a little help sometime. Finding a mentor can be a good way to break you out of your regular working routine and electrify your mind with new ideas and inspiration. Laura Spencer recently wrote a great post for Freelance Folder, which addresses the best ways to find a writing mentor, and why mentors matter in the first place.

 

 

Check out a handful of her mentoring tips:

Get industry-specific tips. If your mentor works in the same freelancing profession as you do, they may be able to help you identify specific tools and techniques that work well in your field and steer you away from those that are bad ideas.

Learn from secondhand experience. It’s great to learn from your mistakes, but it’s even better to avoid making the mistakes in the first place. In a nutshell, this is often what having a mentor can do for you. Your mentor can tip you off to methods and processes that really don’t work well.

Benefit from expanded network connections. Your mentor likely has a broader base of connections since they have been in business longer. For that reason, your mentor can introduce you to or point you towards individuals and fellow article writers who can really help you grow your business.

And Laura offered a few tips on how to find a mentor too:

Past employer/colleague. For those freelancers who have held a traditional job before becoming a freelancer, their past workplace may be the ideal place to find someone experienced in their field.

Professional association. You can also find experienced freelancers (and potential mentors) in professional associations and business networking groups.

Paid coach. Many experienced freelancers offer paid coaching or mentoring services. If you want to find a mentor who works in your specific niche, this may be the best way to do it.

For the rest of Laura’s great tips, check out her Freelance Folder post Finding a Mentor–A Freelancer’s Simple Success Secret.

Where did you find your mentor? How has your mentor helped you in your own freelancing career? Let us know in the Comments

css.php