VETTING YOUR IDEA
You’ve got an idea for a great podcast… or at least you think it’s a great podcast. How can you tell whether your idea will be a hit or fall flat? We’ve got some helpful tips, from finding inspiration to vetting your ideas and turning them into brief, punchy pitches.
T.A.G.S. – That’s A Good Story
Coming up with a good story (and presenting it well) is harder than it seems! Even experienced journalists and producers often struggle with coming up with fresh ideas that editors (and listeners) will respond to. In general, here are some qualities that set fresh story ideas apart from stale ones:
• Twist / trend –
o A good podcast takes a familiar idea and adds a new angle to make it fresh.
• Adds to / Advances the story –
o If your podcast is covering a familiar topic or style, make sure the way you present it takes the listener’s understanding to the next level.
• Grounded in experience / expertise –
o How will you make sure your podcast feels genuine? Start with the things you actually know about, or at least are really curious about.
• Surprising –
o Your podcast should include new, unexpected information, techniques, or elements that make people sit up and listen (and, of course, share your podcast with all their friends).
COMMON PITFALLS OF PITCHING
You’re almost there! As you finalize your podcast/story ideas, check out these common pitfalls and try to avoid them!
• Example: “I heard this new band called U2”
• Why Not? This may be news to you but your discovery has already been discovered.
• Instead: Is there anything new that you could bring to this story? How about finding a local story with a fresh focus.
“The Long-Distance Pitch”
• Example: “I think we should really be covering the conflict in the middle east.”
• Why Not? What could you bring to this story from halfway around the world?
• Instead: Try finding a local angle on global politics, like covering a nearby protest or talking to people who have moved from the area you’re interested in.
“The Aspirational Pitch”
• Example: “I wanna do an in depth profile of Beyonce.”
• Why Not? You probably don’t have access. If you do — can you hook us up with tickets?
• Instead: Maybe there’s some impact her music and celebrity power has had on your community?
• Example:“I want to report on poverty in America”
• Why Not? This is a better topic for a book than a radio story
• Instead: Try to break off a piece of this issue that could be addressed in 4.5 minutes. How are people accessing a new distribution system for welfare benefits.
• Example: “I want to do a story about why all boys love sports”
• Why Not? That’s based on assumption and not necessarily fact. Also is there something new or surprising that we could learn from the story?
• Instead: Look for evidence rather than anecdotes. Maybe the story is about how and why that stereotype persists and whether or not it’s changing.
“The Fake Trend”
• Example: I’ve been playing a new video game so I figure everyone else is too.
• Why Not? Personal interests can be a good start for a story but it’s more interesting to others if it’s part of a larger issue.
• Instead: Research to verify if the trend is real or reframe the story as a first-person commentary.
Now that you’re pretty sure you have a fresh podcast concept, we’ll learn how to turn your idea into a brief pitch.