What Bidders Can Learn From Newspaper Editors

Hope Draper     11 December 2018


The world of bidding is one of storytelling. For a bid to be successful you need to work out how your offer connects with your audience and present this story in a compelling way within a tight timescale.

But imagine if those timescales were a few hours. And you had to come up with brand new stories every single day.

One 1 November, we attended the IAB UK's first ever #Nonference and went to The Telegraph's, MailOnline and Grazia's 'Become the Editor' session. Here's what we learned.

What they do

Make tough decisions, fast

Newspaper editors work from a blank storyboard to content in one working day and the deadline never moves. To meet the deadline, they need to make tough decisions and ensure that they are meeting all regulatory and legal criteria.

Use creative conflict to decide on content

Newspaper editors fill their storyboards by sifting through huge amounts of content and photos. They have arguments to firm their collective opinions. They come up with the catchiest headlines. They make thousands of decisions in an instant.

Never commit these three deadline sins:

  • Being boring - don't write about something that's been written before. It should be new, interesting or make the world a better place.
  • Being lazy - check your facts and be prepared to do the work.
  • Being wrong - it's better to be right than first. Don't publish it if you don't know it.

If you commit any one of these three deadline sins, you lose credibility. If you lose credibility, you lose your audience. You have to justify and stand by every word that you write.

How they do it

Know your identity

Be confident in who you are and what you do. Then make it compelling. Then consider regulations - legal implications. Financial penalties if we get it wrong.

Find your angle

Building on your identity and writing for your target audience. The right writer - add to the conversation and not to the noise.

It's all about storytelling

Use attention grabbing headlines

We tried this activity: Pick your favourite book or story and sum it up in 10 words or less.


Boiling a story down to its eye grabbing essence - that's how to create a headline.

A picture tells a thousand words

The picture you choose to accompany your story can either bring it to life or make it feel like a bit of a damp squib.

Choose a picture that either:

  • Best illustrates your story, or
  • Is a story in itself.

There are lots of similarities between the world of newspaper editing and bidding, and in bidding you get more than 24 hours to turn things around! If you want to know more about how these techniques are applied in the bidding world, get in touch.

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