Pitch Pit #2: Don’t be so generous

Dear James Durston

– Senior Producer at CNN Travel

Slightly odd to inform me of my own job title – but no biggie.

 

  • Would you be interested in publishing my audio slideshow or a small sample of the photos, alongside the text based story?

You’ve bolded, bulleted and placed right up top a question I cannot answer – as I have no other information yet, namely what this story is about. Far better would be to place here the headline you think the story should have. My previous Pitch Pit critique explains the importance of headlines/working titles.

 

Las Fallas in March 2014 is just over 2 months away. Last year in March, I spent 5 days living with a Fallero social club, who organise the fiesta of Las Fallas every year in Spain. Please find my audio slideshow about Las Fallas. It’s called, “A Burning Love”:

http://xxx

Good information and excellent angle – your insider take on this festival. THIS is what should be in bold up top – a headline or working title underlining your rare access to the festival organisers, behind-the-scenes insights etc. The scarcity value of access like that is huge, don’t hide it away, especially for an event like this that is already well covered and written about extensively. Anything new and fresh on an old topic can be the spark that gets an editor to say yes. FYI “A Burning Love” is not a headline an online editor can work with. Far too obscure. That works in magazines, but not websites. 

The audio-slideshow link is also great, though you should state unequivocally whether you’re also selling this slideshow as part of the package. Right now I’m not sure if you’re just highlighting something to show me your work.

If you are selling it, it’s a slight concern that the audio-slideshow is already published somewhere. Some titles/editors need to know they’re getting exclusive content; it’s often a clause in the contracts/agreements they’ll get you to sign. If you’re willing to remove it from this Soundslides site, say so.

 

Furthermore, a small sample of my stills can be viewed via the link provided, below:

http://xxx

Good, but when you say “a small sample” does that mean these are all I have to choose from, or are there others that could be selected too? Spell it out. I don’t have time to guess.

 

I have written a short story (attached) to accompany the audio slideshow or stills. I’ve kept the text brief, so it wouldn’t compete too much with the imagery.

Not so good. I opened your story and immediately I knew you weren’t a writer. I think the problem here is you’re trying to sell too much: an audio-slideshow, images and a story. You may feel these act like tasty little morsels that add up to a great dish, but actually because the ‘story’ was poor, I’m now a little vague on exactly what you’re offering and how I can use it. Far better would be to focus on your strengths – images and the audio-slideshow, and mention that further facts and information can be provided should I be interested. Possibly calling your attachment a ‘story’ was what threw me. ‘Further information’ would be more accurate.

 

Your feedback would be most welcome, even if you don’t wish to publish my work.

Another slightly odd line that is by no means a deal-breaker, but possibly hints at a lack of experience in these kinds of dealings? If that’s true, you shouldn’t be highlighting it in your pitch.

 

Thanks for your time in advance. I look forward to your reply.

Conclusion: An okay pitch that had potential, but fails twice: the lack of a headline focusing on the key angle available here (your insider access) and trying to sell too much. Sell your most sellable product (photos/audio-slideshow) and either get a professional writer to turn your ‘extra info’ into a story, or just let the editor know you can also provide a story to add context to the imagery. If they bite, they’ll be far less likely to turn you down once the story comes in. Alternatively you could offer a photo essay, where your attachment consists of captions for a selection of photos you attach. That way you get the information across, but the writing can be limited.

For good photogs (which you seem to be) it pays to team up with writers. You can then offer story+picture packages that editors love to consider.

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