I love looking at real estate listings. I started five years ago when I was moving and looking for houses. Now I browse the local multiple listing service Website for fun. OK, secretly I want to buy a house in the mountains, but who knows if that will ever happen.
So I was online looking at properties in a local mountain community recently and came across one realtor’s Website that really stood out. In addition to a detailed fact sheet on each listing she had for sale, the realtor had created a Google map of the area with each property pinpointed on it. If you scrolled over the virtual pin, it opened a little bubble with the house’s price and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. If you clicked on the pin, it took you right to the listing. A prospective buyer could also zoom in and out on the map to see exactly where in town all of the listing agent’s properties were located. You can see it for yourself here. In all my years looking at houses online I’ve never seen anything so well packaged and handy.
It’s also exactly the kind of interactive information that freelance writers should think about including in story pitches. Adding audio, video, maps and other digital information to pitches:
- Makes story packages more interesting, upping the chances that an assigning editor will bite.
- Makes full use of the interactive nature of the online media
- Establishes you as a writer who gets Web 2.0 technology
Some publications are already starting to request that writers include multimedia components in their pitches. Just yesterday, a freelance acquaintance shared this letter from a regional publication that’s asking freelancers to include audio or video in their pitches:
“Beginning with the March 2009 issue of XXX, we will begin enhancing our Website with article-related content. The content will include photos and audio and video recordings — anything that helps to tell a story or bring it to life.
For example, if you’re pitching a restaurant, let us know if you’d be able/willing to provide a short video of the chef preparing a dish or offering some kitchen tips. Have a great music group you’d like to write about? In your pitch, tell us if an audio recording could be available for the web.
As you research your stories or even when making a pitch, let us know if you see or think of an opportunity to help showcase an article online.”
It’s not an isolated case. This Associated Press story from Sept. 29, explains how National Public Radio is boosting its already significant efforts to build an online presence by revamping its Website, making it easier to share podcasts of NPR radio shows and creating an online social network for listeners.
Scary? Maybe. Should you do something about it? Probably. If your freelance practice doesn’t include audio and video yet, there are plenty of places to get training, as I’ve explained in previous posts here and here, here.