Securing Interview Sources to Make Your Stories Sing

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67 minutes of video
67 minutes of audio
16 slides
21 pages of transcript

I’m always shocked when I see people selling lists of contacts at tourism boards. They aren’t hard to find! And, you’d be shocked how many (important!) people are not only available, but very happy to speak with you for your articles. In this webinar, we looked at how to find the right people for each piece.


In interviews and on panels at conferences, editors are often asked what they’d like to see in pitches.

The most common answer–that the writer is familiar with the magazine and pitching an idea that would actually work–we discuss regularly here.

But the one many editors also share (and secretly wish they could talk more about rather than the very basic pitching essential about) is that they want you to pitch them a story. With characters.

Yikes…now we’ve entered the realm of fiction. Or at least that’s how it used to seem to me.

Characters? Storyline? In a 200-word front-of-book short? Or a round-up feature? Yes, often even in articles like that where space is tight and there’s no room to waste words. It can sound like an incredibly tall order, especially for a short piece, but if you can start doing this, it will be an absolute turning point for your writing.

Let’s look at services pieces. And go outside the realm of travel for a minute. In women’s magazines, like Cosmopolitan or Redbook, there are always service pieces, articles that tell readers how to do something–and typically how to do it better or faster than they’re already doing it.

How are these different than articles you might find on a blog or any one of the tens of thousands of other women-focused editorial websites out there?

You might already see where this is going. The answer is sources, but there’s more to it. It’s not even just that they use expert sources. These articles use a mix of expert sources that meet certain criteria *and* anecdotes from regular people, often called “everyman” sources.

And, there might very well be three sources interviewed for a 300-word piece.

Still not sure you feel the difference? Try this. Head to Contently’s blog “The Freelancer” and check out their advice pieces that feature interviews with working freelance writers and compare them again a different post that is just a round-up or written from a first-person point of view.

What do you feel more inclined to trust without knowing the writer or anything about their background?

If the current review-driven culture of the travel and hospitality industries have taught us nothing else, it is the enormous power of collections of other people’s options. We may be skeptical or completely disinterested in one, but when you aggregate several examples, we are psychological compelled to find more value in the argument. If there is a weight of authority behind the opinion, it sways us even more.

How does this translate with travel writing?

All of our pieces have some sort of point, whether it’s as simple as why you should visit a certain destination, attraction, hotel, or restaurant, or something deeply, such as asking the reader to question his or her assumptions about cultural identity.

And that point, that change or emotion or action you’re trying to instill on the part of the reader, carries much more psychological weight with social or authoritative proof.

How do you get it?

That’s what we’ll cover in this webinar on Securing Interview Sources to Make Your Stories Sing, as we unpack how, when, and where to find the sources that give your stories that extra oomph.

We will cover:
– Does your story needs sources?
– Who exactly do you need to talk to for this particular story?
– Where can you find these people?
– How do you reach out to these people once you’ve found them?