If you’re pitching a story idea to journalists, give them a little something extra that will prompt them to say “tell me more.”
I’m referring specifically to what’s called a sidebar. It’s a short, often boxed auxiliary news story that’s printed alongside the longer article and typically presents additional information such as statistics or bullet points.
Let’s say you’re pitching a story about the heat wave that I discussed earlier, and you’re issuing tips for parents on how to keep their kids safe on playgrounds, where the temperature on metal sliding boards can burn kids’ legs. You could offer a sidebar that shows the exact temperature of a metal sliding board on an 85-degree day, a 90-degree day, a 95-degree day, and so on.
Sidebars can also include things like industry definitions, timelines, examples, step-by-step instructions, a quiz, etc.
On the CD I recorded called “Briefs, Fillers & Quizzes: How to Write Them and Why Editors Love Them,” I explain that journalists especially love quizzes because they engage readers, and they’re fun. You can use briefs not only as sidebars, but as stand-alone pieces.