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6 Pop-Culture Tips for Monthly Magazine Content

You may not wear dancing shoes at deadline time, but here are several Footloose Kevin Bacon-era ways to ease the tension. Use these pop-culture flashbacks to create a complete local page package this month.

Add Some Cheer(s)

A story should be a place where everybody knows your name. While there is not a hard and fast rule about how many quotes you should include in a feature, some writers submit stories without a single quote. Imagine walking into a silent bar.

Quotes—the voices of a story’s characters—are as important as the information in the story. They draw readers in, add color and help readers care.

The quality of a comment matters. Putting quote marks around the time an event starts does not work.

Do not put details or hard facts into quotes. Instead, use quotes to convey the emotion of the story.

Writing is a balancing act. Use quotes for about 40 percent of your story. Too many quotes may cause readers to get lost in a story. A writer provides a solid framework to keep readers going in the right direction.

Another (Fact) Bites the Dust

Writers must fact-check stories. Your editor only proofs content for spelling, style and grammar. Often Ruralite editors find a name spelled one way in a cutline and another way in the story.

Allow for fact-checking time every month. Call your source to double-check the facts before you submit copy. Check:

  • Name spellings
  • Titles
  • Quotes
  • Hard facts

Choose Your Own Adventure

choose your own adventure booksRemember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? Every time you came to the end of a page, you got to decide where the story led. Give your editor choices, too.

Instead of sending only one picture, send lots of options (more than five is ideal). Let your editor decide which image looks best on the page.

Raiders of the Lost… Picture

Often editors receive a picture after a page has been built. Imagine telling Indiana Jones he needs to go back into a booby-trapped temple he just escaped!

Send artwork before (not after) a page is built.

Local pictures of people and places in your community work best. Freelancers must provide their own images. If you are a utility communicator and need a specific type of stock image, tell your editor what kind of image you would like when you submit your story. We charge $15 to research and purchase stock images when other pictures are not available.

Avoid Perfect Strangers

Odds are your editor reenacts Balki Bartokomous’ dance for joy every time your story arrives with captions and IDs for every picture. If you are sending a lot of pictures of the same people at an event, tell your editor what people in the pictures are wearing along with your draft caption. This makes caption checking easier for everyone.

Keep an Eye (of the Tiger) on Deadlines

(Cue images of Rocky prepping for a match.) When you meet deadlines, you give your editor time to do his or her job. Your pages cannot deliver a knock-out punch if your editor does not have enough editing and design time.

We know people miss deadlines for a variety of reasons. We try our best to accommodate late submissions, but we have a firm print deadline.

Each editor works for several utilities. When a lot of pages come in at the last minute, we cannot give each page the high level of care they deserve. And if everyone missed the deadline on the same month, it would not be physically possible to get all of the pages done on time.

Back to the Future

Flashbacks are fun, but you can’t telework from a DeLorean. For a complete local page package, use quality quotes, fact-check story basics, send lots of pictures or ideas for stock photos, provide picture captions and meet your deadline.

Now sit back and watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We take care of the rest.