Watching Avatar while sitting next to a Stanford professor had me (and the professor) wondering about the ‘Stanford’ t-shirt that Sigourney Weaver’s avatar wears very prominently in a number of scenes.
What was the story was behind the shirt’s appearance in the movie? Why choose that university? What was that choice meant to signify to the viewer? And who, I next wondered, might be interested in running a short article featuring the answers? The obvious candidate was the Stanford alumni magazine — one of the best of its kind — for which I’ve written before.
So the next day I pitched my editorial contact at the magazine and on Friday (just a couple of weeks later) the article was posted online.
The experience is a good reminder that a feature idea can have a lot of potential homes and be of potential interest to a lot of different people. But when it comes to getting someone to actually commission your idea, you’re best off pitching the outlet most directly aimed at readers with the maximum potential interest in the subject you are hoping to explore.