Wednesday, 17 September 2008

#17 – Go against the reputation to find a story angle

Or why opposites attract

One of the easiest ways to find a good angle on a destination to write about is to think about what the city or region is best known for. And once you’ve thought about what gives the destination its reputation, search for the opposite.

New angles on old favourite destinations
As I’ve said before, editors are constantly looking for new angles on old favourite destinations. And if I had to pick one rule-of-thumb trick that works in what they’ll go for, it’s this reputation twist.
Instead of rambling on about ways to do this, it’s probably best to just give a few examples of pieces I’ve written before.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Reputation? ‘Coffee’ shops, red light district and debauchery.
Opposite: The serious side of Amsterdam – Anne Frank’s House, the Dutch Resistance Museum etc.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Reputation? Ludicrous building projects, huge shopping malls and general ostentatious wealth.
Opposite: The non-blingy side of Dubai - the largely immigrant-populated area of Deira, the beaches away from the Jumeirah strip, public ferries on the Dubai Creek.

Hunter Valley, Australia
Reputation? One of the great New World wine regions.
Opposite: The growing micro-brewing industry in the area – the beer makers that are taking on the wineries.

Brussels, Belgium
A bit boring, full of politicians.
Opposite: The fun side of Brussels – most entertaining attractions and best places to go for a party atmosphere.

Oslo, Norway
Reputation? Tear-jerkingly expensive.
Opposite: How to do Oslo on a budget – good value for money hotels, cheap eats etc.

See, it’s a relatively simple (almost lazy) trick. But it often works. Try applying it to the destination you’re planning to visit next, or one in your local area, and send out a few pitches once you’ve looked into how you could write an article on the opposite to the stereotype. You may well get a bite.

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