You probably haven’t gone completely paperless. I still like to page through magazines. I get the Wednesday and Sunday newspapers. Even if you don’t subscribe to magazines, you may receive some from a hobby club you take part in or your insurance company or auto club. Some are available for free in stands around town.
Wrapping fish isn’t the thing to do with yesterday’s news. (Click to Tweet This!)
Don’t toss those magazines yet either. They can be your inspiration. They can also point to people to interview or even a new client. So if you’re stuck for a new idea, gather up those magazines, newspapers, and even your junk mail, and start digging, clipping, and recycling your “old news”.
Sports pages love to tell stories. These are great analogies for a lead-in to many types of articles. Whether it’s the game winning point or the star athlete who was cut from the high school team, these little facts will often make good opening or closing points. You could also learn about a local athlete, leading to an interview for a human interest piece.
New business openings or old business closings are always of interest. They also point to different local and national trends. Clip those stories. Remember how many people were talking about the demise of the Hostess Twinkie several months back? A true business story that illustrates a point can be used many times over. There are whole books compiled of illustrations and anecdotes using material from the world of commerce.
Look for local one-time events and annual happenings that you can attend. Often these events are common to the locals, but not to everyone else. In my area, we have the Strawberry and Peach festivals and the Neptune Festival at the beach. Find out about how an event started. Interview an organizer. If it is a yearly event, think of an angle for next year. Remember to begin working on your proposal about six months ahead of time.
Newspapers and magazines, both local and national, may alert you to a person regularly in the public eye. Listen for new things they are doing and find new angles. Network to see if you have a connection that might introduce you to the person you’d like to interview.
Don’t throw out the AAA brochures or the travel section of the paper. You may not be traveling in the immediate future, but articles can provide you with a lot of information about a particular area. If you’re an auto club member, they have books, catalogs and brochures that will tell you everything you’d want to know (or write) about an area.
The opinion-editorial (op-ed) section of a newspaper provides stimulating and controversial topics. A short piece in this section may spark an idea for a full article or a completely different idea. Often they provide a few pieces on the same subject written from different points of view, which is great insight into a subject. People write what they’re passionate about. Newspapers (and politicians) work on the same idea that one in one hundred people with the same feelings actually take the time to write a letter. Use the opinion section to gauge your local audience.
… but certainly not least, I mention junk mail. Before throwing it away, consider where it’s from, who wrote it and what other needs they might have. A writer I met told a story of how a brochure about the new wing of hospital he received was going to go right into the trash. Then he thought about the fact that they would need fundraising materials, public relations pieces, and many other items related to this project. He telephoned the hospital marketing department and got several jobs – just from that one piece of paper that almost went into the trash.
Now you have a reason to appreciate junk mail.
You can thank me later.
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