Connecting With The Bike Media
Mark Eller, IMBA Communications Director; Joe Parkin, Editor, Bike magazine; John Bradley, Writer, Outside magazine; Maurice Tierney, Publisher, Dirt Rag magazine; Jeff Barber, Editor, Singletracks.com
Many members of the bike media genuinely want to support bike advocacy, but they are in the tricky position of balancing entertainment with news content, while also meeting the needs of their publishers and advertisers. With this in mind, the panel gave advice on how to get advocacy-related stories published. Tips include:
Successful story pitches often focus on a human-interest element. Editors look for stories that have a connection with readers—sharing experiences, giving advice, etc.
Stories that put trails and people together are much more interesting than stories that focus only on trails. Use plenty of quotes from a variety of sources to give your piece personality.
Focus on the benefits to readers. Don’t just write about the struggle to get 30 miles of trail built -- instead lead with info about 30 miles of new trails to ride, and then tie in the story of the struggle.
It’s exciting to get a story published in a national magazine, but don't overlook local and regional sources. In a world where major media outlets are going under, community papers, TV and radio stations are thriving.
Get to know the local beat reporters and become a credible "go-to" source for bike issues. Give reporters and editors about a month's notice before upcoming events.
Enlist a photographer in the community to get good quality photos of local trails, events, etc. This is a great way to get a larger article in the paper!
With online forums, eZines, blogs, and other electronic media, it’s becoming easier to get bike and advocacy content published on the Internet.
Take advantage of online media by posting stories, photos and videos of riding. People are always looking for inspirational content, and love to see photos of potential vacation destinations.
If you’re having trouble getting a story published in a biking magazine, branch out and send pitches to other publications. A feature on a women’s group or event may pique the interest of a women-specific magazine. Having a story published in a non-cycling magazine may not hit your target audience right away, but it will get your message out to more (and new) people.
If you live in an area that has great riding, but doesn’t get much coverage, pitch a larger issue story. While the trails, or lack thereof, may be an interesting part of the piece, they aren’t always a story in themselves.
When pitching a story, determine the kind of content the outlet publishes and tailor the pitch accordingly. Then narrow your story down to a simple focus.
It’s better to have a good story that’s might be poorly written, than to submit and expertly written, boring piece.
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