The Danger of Pitching a Trend Story

It wasn’t something I’d thought too much about —  until it happened to me…

I had pitched a great Notre Dame trend story to a journalist at a top newspaper. Not only did he go for the pitch, he wanted an exclusive — Yay me!  So I thought…

After arranging several phone interviews between the journalist and the director of the program being featured in the story, then being copied on their email exchanges, I began to notice a shift in the focus of the story.  Hmmmmm. Subtle at first, then clearly a new, sexier angle that  had only a little bit of a Notre Dame connection began floating to the top.  Then the shift  began pushing Notre Dame farther and farther into the background of this story.

It was a runaway train and there was nothing I could do about it.

The story came out a few days later, and as I had feared,  Notre Dame had been relegated to two lines on the second page of the story, just one of several institutions contributing to this national trend.

 I wanted to scream. Then cry. I had done the leg work. I had developed a compelling pitch. Notre Dame was on the cutting edge of this trend, so how could we NOT be central to the story?

So what did I learn from this?

  • First, don’t beat yourself up too much.  I mean, you tried, right? You can’t control what the journalist decides to write about.
  • Don’t let one bad experience prevent you from pitching a great trend story again. Next time, you could hit the jackpot!
  • You’ve made a new media friend. Appreciate that the journalist is likely to open your next email and read your pitch since you provided such a great idea, even if it didn’t go the way you had hoped.
  • Don’t be afraid to cash in…”You owe me one” is a phrase that I’m not afraid to use.


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