It’s no secret the creative industries are competitive, careers in the media included. From the need to react to the latest news and trends, to the pressures of uncovering exclusive stories, there’s a constant demand for immediacy, not to mention scrutiny of a writer’s ability to capture and engage an audience.
In such a fast-paced environment, it can be difficult to break through the buzz. So, how can you improve your chances?
One way is to find your own unique voice – something that, as budding creatives, we’re all in search of. And when it comes to written journalism, finding a distinct voice and style is imperative to standing out in the field.
Have a strategy and identify your strengths
“The universe is made of stories, not atoms”
Storytelling is at the heart of the human experience, so it makes sense to implement it in your writing. More than ever, PR companies working for different brands and in-house writers alike are utilising storytelling to capture and retain audiences.
Hone your fact-checking and research skills
Misinformation runs rampant on the internet, so it’s important to be able to identify the real news from the fake. Unfortunately, it’s easy to slip into choosing journalistic topics based on the “shock” factor because that’s what gets the clicks. However, the reputational damage caused by spreading misinformation is really not worth the few extra clicks!
As an LSE student, one of your strengths is the research skills you’ve developed during your studies, and that’s something you can use to create journalism that audiences respond to – and what better way to evoke a response that to provide solutions? For instance, if you are feeling peckish, you might stumble upon an article that not only lists the best snack foods but also where to get them – a win-win for all involved.
Learn to write an effective pitch
Although the content is arguably the most important part of a piece, your pitch is what grabs your editor’s attention and turns your ideas into action. A pitch needs a headline or the attention grabber, followed by a short paragraph explaining why you are the best person to write about that topic and draw on statistics as to what there is to gain from publishing a piece about it. For extra pitch tips, check out our blog on how to present your pitch effectively.
We often believe that before we act on an idea, it needs to be fully fleshed out, relevant, and innovative. The biggest worry of any creative is so-called writer’s block or artist’s block. However, ideas come from a unique combination of internal and external forces, so don’t limit yourself by trying to formulate ideas alone; we all need inspiration!
Here are some tips for collecting inspiration:
- Keep a notebook and write down your ideas
This could be something in the news you want to explore further, or even a eureka shower thought.
- Talk to people
Even in the middle of a pandemic, there are online communities where you can find people interested in your topic. A lot of inspiration can come from conversations.
- Read broadly
Exploring different content helps you gain new knowledge that can elevate ideas that you have. This will help you find a niche topic and create a unique angle for your writing.
The importance of a voice and finding your niche
When it comes to writing, we are often plagued with the idea of finding unique and interesting topics. However, finding your niche is synonymous with realising your expertise.
It takes hundreds of hours of practice and dedication to become a master of any craft, so try to get as much writing experience as possible. For instance, as an intern, you might end up writing very quick news stories. However, from this experience, you will learn how to make ‘click-bait’ titles, write ‘hooks’, and improve your writing technique.
Working in the media industry is a continual learning experience – much like being a student! There is always something new to learn because of the rise and fall of trends along with the natural flow of news and stories that happen in the day-to-day. The more you learn, the more up-to-date expertise you’ll have, and the more valuable your skills will be.
Be realistic, but don’t be discouraged
Sometimes we think we have great ideas, but when it comes to pitching it to editors, it may get shut down. It’s usually not personal, rather whether it fits into the company style, publishing cycle, or the direction they’re going for. Don’t be discouraged, perhaps at a later time you can go back to that idea, and it is never too late to rework the idea to fit the brand you’re working for! It’s a matter of being able to find your windows of opportunity.