Tuesday Tip: Timely and Personal

writingquoteThis Tuesday, we’re sharing some advice inspired by a recent success from one of our Public Voices fellows from Texas Woman’s University.  Joy Strickland, founder and CEO of Mothers Against Teen Violence and the mother of a murdered son, wrote a powerful op-ed in The Huffington Post in response to the Trayvon Martin verdict.

Two important factors worked in Joy’s favor when pitching this piece: timeliness and personal connection.  Much of the time, when deciding what and when to pitch, it’s important to evaluate upcoming holidays, anniversaries, public events (like this case), and other timely markers.  In addition, having a timely pull coupled with a powerful personal connection–beyond being an expert in the subject–can go a long way in making your story appeal to an editor.

As the founder and CEO of an anti-violence organization, Joy had the expert factor.  The fact that she had a deeply personal link to the tragedy as well makes her story that much more powerful and attention-grabbing.

Looking ahead, what is a piece that you could write that is both timely and personal?  If you’re writing about veterans, consider linking it to Labor Day, as well as an anecdote from a veteran grandparent.  If it’s about immigration, look up the next time a bill will be decided and link it to a story of your immigrant family. Keep in mind that ultimately, you are not only writing for an audience, but also for yourself, adding your voice to the fray as you diversify the public conversation.

“Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us,” as writer Don DeLillo said.  Consider what falls best in line with your stories and the current zeitgeist.

When you’ve got your story ready to go, feel free to use these contacts for pitching.


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