Due to the generosity of TASA, I recently had the opportunity to complete a Pitching & Writing Masterclass with The Conversation.
The course ran via Zoom over 2 days where the participants worked in small groups with a relevant editor on how to successfully pitch an article to The Conversation and other news outlets.
I went away from the masterclass with copious amounts of notes and I’d like to briefly share some personal highlights.
There are five categories of stories that researchers are invited to pitch:
1. News analysis and explainers. These stories help readers make sense of news issues. These can provide fresh perspectives or be plain-english explainers.
2. New research. Here authors share important new findings highlighting real-world solutions.
3. Timeless articles. These stories are not bound to current events, but tell an interesting story or provide insight to a significant question.
4. Personal stories. Human interest stories are welcomed by Conversation editors.
5. List articles. These can be tied to current events or are a good way of communicating older research. Titles for these may begin with lines such as ‘5 Things you didn’t know about…’ or ’10 reasons why…”
Another useful tip for writing for a news site vs academic journal was understanding the unique structure of news articles. Articles for sites such as The Conversation begin with an explainer of something that is new or surprising about the topic (the hook), followed by a presentation of the important facts (in descending order) and conclude with a brief discussion of where the issue will go next. It’s important to lead with your most interesting ideas, as news articles lose readers as they go.
It's important to have one clear message per story, don’t try to include too many ideas in the one pitch. There is no limit on the times you can pitch to The Conversation, so if you have multiple ideas, submit multiple pitches (over time!).
Over the two days the participants had the opportunity to hone a pitch for The Conversation. My research focuses on gender equality policy, which is very well-worn territory, but working with the editor I found a way to come up with a fresh and interesting approach.
Fingers crossed for my pitch! However, if my first pitch isn’t taken up, I’ve got plenty more ideas for stories and now know how to best get them accepted.