Discover magazine consistently has delivered refreshingly understandable reports on complex developments in science, medicine, technology, and the world around us for more than 30 years. It is highly regarded for compelling stories that are thought-provoking and raise important awareness to sometimes obscure topics.
One of our clients is conducting some groundbreaking scientific research. Because of the reasons above — along with its impressive 328,671 circulation and 2,087,797 UVPM — Discover magazine was at the top of our pitch list to highlite this information as an outlet that will not only have incredible reach, but also be the most effective in telling the story. In order for my pitch to be as compelling as possible, I conducted some extensive research into how the editors at Discover like to be pitched as well as general best pitching practices. Here’s what I learned.
Discover is published 10 time per year with the annual “Year in Science” special edition, highlighting the top 100 scientific stories of the previous year, publishing in January or February. The lead time is typically six months or more for features and two to three months for news stories. The online version of the magazine, www.discovermag.com, has shorter leads and mostly seeks content for its blogs and photo galleries.
When pitching, it is important to not send completed articles, to include a few strong clips or summary of previous publications, and to send the story pitch to the appropriate editor. If you are unsure which editor to pitch, you can send it to email@example.com.
Sections Accepting Pitches
Discover has eight specific sections in the print magazine that accepts pitches, “The Crux,” “Mind Over Matter,” “Prognosis,” “Out There,” “Notes from Earth,” “History Lessons,” and “Origin Story.” Before pitching any of these sections, it is incredibly important to do your homework and read a couple of stories from each to ensure that your pitch will be relevant to the section.
The Crux, the “vibrant front-of-book,” prioritizes stories that have whimsical or quirky elements to them. This could include dramatic, futuristic advancements to topics discussed in the magazine, or even radical, first-person accounts from the front lines of research. Above all, The Crux is designed to give a reader a tantalizing taste of what is to come in the rest of the issue. When pitching this section, be sure to understand the purpose that it serves.
The Mind Over Matter column fittingly covers behavioral sciences and the submissions are written exclusively essay-style. Pitches to this column should clearly discuss the inner workings of the mind in a way that readers can fully understand and to which they can personally relate.
Prognosis, easily deciphered from its name, is Discover’s column focused on medical science. It typically covers new trends in medicine, unknown or little discussed research, or a specific medical field through the eyes of a scientist.
Notes from Earth explores earth and environmental science topics with stories that inspire awe about our planet. The goal of this section is to stimulate its readers to think of our world in remarkable new ways, and pitches should reflect this.
History Lessons provides insight into forgotten or seldom-visited moments and individuals in the history of science. Pitches to this section should connect these past events with current research or topics in order to demonstrate timeliness and relevance. This section welcomes thoughtful narratives but there is also room for lighthearted essays.
Origin Story, congruent with its name, explores new research that works to advance or challenge our understanding of our collective history. This section covers archaeology, anthropology and human evolution, with a special focus on ideas that question our common knowledge of how humans evolved.
Out There is the magazine’s column on all things space, primarily planetary science, astrophysics and cosmology. Usually complex topics to understand, pitches should reflect the writer’s ability to effectively convey these ideas to the average reader while also creating a compelling story.
Discover actively seeks pitches for its narrative feature stories in any area that the magazine covers. As these stories have longer lead times, around 6 months, writers should be prepared for the piece to undergo two or three major revisions. These feature stories should involve research that is relatively new and will cater to the narrative style of the section. Pitches should explicitly tell the editors why the information is important, what the approach to the story will be, and should include ideas for additional content (photos, infographics, etc.)
Securing content for a client in Discover magazine would be a huge win and I hope that these guidelines will get you one step closer!
Tags: Best Practices, Communique PR, compelling pitches, Discover, pitching, Public relations, Strategy