In the delicate art of pitching, it takes more than just a good idea to get a story into the paper. According to professionals in the industry, a successful story pitcher needs detail, creativity and perseverance.
Martha Perkins is the editor-in-chief of the Vancouver Courier, and has been a journalist since 1985.
Dozens of story pitches fill her email inbox every day, but only half even make it past just reading the subject line.
She says editors want to be engaged right from the beginning of the pitch, and be presented with an original and creative take on a story. If her interest isn’t grabbed straight away, Perkins says she usually just deletes them.
“An editor is a reader. An editor is saying ‘what do I want to read about?’” Perkins says. “You have to give a story idea that captures attention, that is creative; we talk a lot about moving the conversation forward, we don’t want it just to be repeating what everyone else is saying.”
To maximize the chances of a pitch making it through, it also needs to make the editor’s life easier. According to Perkins, a good pitch always contains a detailed list of relevant contacts and photos that would add depth to the story.
“You have to take away a lot of the editor’s second-guessing in terms of how can we support this [story],” Perkins says. “Give them the ideas.”