I promised you a few words on writing about anniversaries so here goes. Peruse any newspaper or magazine and you will find numerous examples of articles based around a current anniversary. This is no coincidence. People like to read about current issues. The writers of those articles were not lucky with their article pitches – they thought ahead.
Planning an Anniversary Article
If you want to write about anniversaries you have to be forward thinking. For any article based around Christmas you should probably submit 9-12 months ahead to magazines. For any other subject I would allow a minimum of six months, but preferably more. (Newspapers require less notice but are far more difficult to break into.)
Use the internet to search ahead for memorable anniversaries. Don’t just look for the obvious ones. It could be the death of a famous person, a significant battle, a sporting event, the publication of a bestseller, the opening of a prominent building, the first airing of a popular TV programme, a scientific discovery, an invention, the list is endless.
Draw up a list and reduce it to those that you can find sufficient information about to flesh out an article.
Finding a Market
Now is the time to really think outside the box. Take your first subject and fill a page with as many connections you can think of, however tenuous.
Here is an example. Next year is the 50th anniversary of England beating West Germany to win the Football World Cup in 19966. A straightforward anniversary piece, recalling the occasion, is unlikely to find favour with editors because staff writers are likely to cover that. Brainstorming the subject I came up with this list of possible angles:
- A brief history of Wembley Stadium, where the final took place
- A story about the World Cup being stolen a few months before the tournament and being rediscovered by Pickles the dog. Or a story about stolen sporting trophies.
- George Cohen, one of England’s players that day, is the uncle of Ben Cohen who was a player on the England Rugby Union World Cup winning team in 2003 – are there any other families with such success in major sports?
- Brothers Bobby and Jackie Charlton were on England’s team – have any other siblings achieved such success?
- Find and interview people who were in the crowd that day
- If you are old enough, what were you doing that day?
- A where are they now feature on the players
- A history of England-(West)Germany matches over the years. Consider other sports – they famously met in an Olympic Field Hockey Final at Sydney in 2000.
That was a few minute’s worth and I am sure there are plenty more angles but you get the idea.
Go through your list and brainstorm likely markets for each subject e.g. sports magazines or a pet magazine for a story about Pickles finding the trophy. Do this well and you might come up with half a dozen different magazines for each subject.
Pitching the Article
Take the best ideas from your brainstorm and pitch them to magazines as discussed in my last post.
Writing the Article
With luck you will receive one or two positive responses from editors. Now all you have to do is meet their requirements in terms of length etc. and write a polished article.
There is no limit to the subject matter you can find to write about when you start researching anniversaries. Start doing it today.