On 14 June 2016, journalist Madeline Crisp joined us to talk to us about pitching to magazines and newspapers. Madeline is a part time freelance Beauty Editor, but has worked for 20 years as staff on magazines, newspapers, in PR and styling.
We were all looking forward to what she had to say.
Madeline’s first tip for anyone wanting to start out as a journalist was to join the NUJ. For an annual fee, membership of the NUJ provides many benefits as well as opportunities for training. Take a look at their site, it is very informative.
So, what about actually writing for magazines and newspapers?
Madeline stressed the importance of knowing what category the piece you are writing falls into. Is it news? A blog article? An opinion piece? Or a feature? This will help you target your pitch to those publications that publish that category of work. As with fiction, Madeline also recommended reading the publication you are submitting to and making sure to address the editor of the relevant section by name, demonstrating that you have done your homework.
For the pitch itself Madeline recommended a teaser with bullet points setting out what the piece will include. The pitch needs to pique the editor’s interest. The subject header of the email should grab the editor’s attention. However, in the pitch you should be careful not to give too much away and at this point you should not reveal your sources.
Other tips included:
- delivering copy early;
- always referencing sources; and
- always using original quotes.
In terms of deciding what to write about, Madeline suggested that we look at people we knew within our community who may have an interesting story as well as the importance of writing about something that we were interested in. She also suggested having a number of articles already written that could be selected as and when the subject matter becomes relevant. She gave as an example a member of the Royal family taking up yoga. Pitching an article about the benefits of yoga which could sit aside that ongoing story might then result in that piece being taken up.
Madeline talked briefly about the market in general and the influx of online magazines and sites which gave more opportunity for people to publish their work. She did note in response to a question that this may mean writing for no payment and that even with the larger print publications, working freelance may mean that even where an article has been commissioned, if it gets dropped then no payment will be forthcoming unless that had been previously agreed. For all of us who may be starting out however she said that this was a great way to start to build a portfolio of work.
It was fantastic to have Madeline’s insights into a world which most of us have not yet experienced and we went away brimming with ideas for our first article, confident that we would now be able to pitch it with some degree of professionalism.
Previously she was beauty columnist for the Daily Mirror for 5 years and has freelance written and styled for titles including Grazia, New Woman, Cosmopolitan, Sunday Express, Closer, Woman’s Own and Top Sante.
She also works as a media consultant on creative development, pack and catalogue copy for brands such as Mark Hill, Hugo Boss fragrances and Dove.