Wednesday, 21 January 2009

#75 – Use anniversaries as a hook

Or the joy of nice round numbers.

Travel editor difficulties
One of the difficulties of being a travel editor is creating a reason for running a story on a certain destination. In all honesty, there’s no real reason to run that quite nice story about flea markets in Paris – it’s just personal choice. And frankly, it doesn’t matter which issue it goes in – it’s hardly topical, is it?

Anniversaries and topicality
So editors love to have something topical. They like to have stories on places that are in the news, and they often end up running things related to anniversaries. Look out over this year, and you’ll see plenty of stories with tenuous links to some anniversary or other.

From Galileo to the Berlin Wall
I should know – I’ve got commissions to write about some of them. It’s 400 years since Galileo Galilei invented his telescope; it’s 200 years since Charles Darwin was born; it’s 90 years since the Nazi party was founded and it’s 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down.

Nice round numbers
In all honesty, most of these are not that significant, but humans buy into anniversaries in a big way. If it’s a nice round number of years since a major event, people will always find some excuse to celebrate it. And travel editors are interested in what people are celebrating. Thus 1,000 meandering words on the lovely English town of Shrewsbury suddenly takes on more urgency when Charles Darwin was born there 200 years ago.

Keeping track
As a writer, it’s always worth keeping track of anniversaries that are coming up. If you can get in there before everyone else starts writing about them, you’ve got a high chance of making a successful pitch.


Ms. Lucy said...

Thanks for another angle, and opportunity to look out for.

jen laceda said...

Hello David W,

I just "discovered" your blog through Lara's Cool Travel Guide.

Although I was hoping you could share some photos with us, I guess that's not really the point of your blog.

As a social experiment, I will (try to) follow and apply your tips / techniques the best way I can, and see if there is hope in carving out a career in travel writing for me.

Of course, I will fail miserably because people like you are excellent at what you do. Nonetheless, I will be lurking around and slowly chipping away at the layers...