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Andrew Russo

SEO and Other Terms to Know for Digital Media Success

As print publications continue to close shop or move content entirely to the Web, more and more writers and editors will need to adapt to the digital landscape. And with this new environment comes a new language every online journalist should know.

At the top of the list is SEO or search engine optimization. No doubt you’ve heard of it. ”SEO… determines rankings in Google, Bing and Yahoo searches,” said Brande Victorian, deputy editor of MadameNoire.com. She added:

It’s sort of this game of picking out keywords that are going to make the content that you write show up in these searches so that you’re getting more page views than anyone else.

Once you have your keywords (another important term) determined, the next step is to incorporate them in your headline, dek and body copy — in a cohesive, natural way. Forcing keywords into your copy won’t fool Google — and does a disservice to your readers.

For more vital words digital journalists should know, read: 7 Terms Every Digital Media Journalist Should Know.

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Pitch Travel Stories With a Strong Journalistic Hook to Roads & Kingdoms

In a world of listicles and quizzes, Roads & Kingdoms, launched in 2012, seeks to fill a void in travel journalism with a focus on in-depth reporting of destinations. Instead of critiques of new hotels or a roundup of luxe resorts, Roads & Kingdoms delves into the dynamics that affect a region’s culture, politics and economy. It presents travel writing in a more journalistic light. Editor-in-chief and founder Nathan Thornburgh says:

Our target readers are people who are already well traveled and are looking for stories from more distant places they don’t know yet. That, and they like good writing.

Roads & Kingdoms also has partnerships with both Sports Illustrated (for international soccer stories) and Slate (for stories on foreign affairs), so there’s the possibility for freelancers’ work to appear on either outlet in addition to Roads & Kingdoms.

For more information on what editors are looking for in a query, read: How to Pitch: Roads & Kingdoms.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Grandparents.com Seeks Freelance Pitches on Modern Grandparenting

Grandparents.com is a site for the modern grandparent. Its readers are interested in traveling, staying healthy and, of course, finding fun things to do with the grandkids. After all, explains editor-in-chief Ellen Breslau, the average age of a grandparent today is only 52. So freelancers interested in pitching the site should steer clear of stories on hearing aids or assisted living.

Instead, Breslau says she wants “more health stories and smart takes on financial matters, such as estate planning or the best part-time jobs for baby boomers.” You should also note:

Articles typically average 500 words and include one to two expert sources. Slide shows are another popular format on the website and should be made up of quick, easily digestible tips. The tone is conversational — “as if your best friend or neighbor were speaking to you,” says Breslau.

For more details on what to pitch the site, read: How to Pitch: Grandparents.com.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

The Root Seeks Smart, Timely Pieces Affecting African-Americans for Its 60/60 News Cycle

Time has seen the news evolve from monthly and weekly reports on current events to the 24/7 news cycle. However, digital outlets like The Root, a hub of news, commentary and analysis from a thoughtful black perspective, aim to satisfy the masses that demand updates on a minute-by-minute basis. Managing editor Lyne Pitts calls this the 60/60 news cycle.

For writers pitching The Root, timeliness is just one component. Pitts recommends that freelancers focus on quality writing and reporting on issues in pop culture, politics and more that affect African-Americans. Stories should be about something current and the tone should be “very reactionary” and “smart in that reaction.”

Pitts adds that:

If you’re thinking it, we’re probably talking about it. That’s the way pitches need to be in terms of timeliness, focus and reaction to what’s going on. If you send me a pitch on Friday about something that happened on Wednesday, we may have already moved on.

For more on what editors are looking for, read: How to Pitch: The Root.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Pitch ‘Immediately Engaging,’ Photo-Heavy Pieces to BBC Travel

BBC-Travel-Blog-ImageTop 30 Vacation Spots in America. The 10 Best Places to Visit in Rome. How to Take a Road Trip on a Budget. For travel websites and blogs, it’s easy to use listicles as a way to deliver stories. They’re short, sweet and to the point. However, BBC Travel has a different approach to travel content.

The 3-year-old site focuses on ”stories that are unexpected or surprising, have a timely ‘Why now?’ hook, and weave a strong, context-heavy narrative,” says deputy editor Ellie Cobb. Editors are also looking for visual elements to supplement your story:

Concise pitches that are “immediately engaging” will avoid the editors’ slush pile, and mentioning availability of high-resolution photos will further distinguish a pitch, as editors are commissioning “photo-heavy” pieces, including photo essays that are formatted as slideshows.

Cobb encourages writers with multimedia skills to send queries, too. In particular, she’s eager to consider infographic pitches and videos.

For more on what stories to pitch, read: How to Pitch: BBC Travel.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

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