Let’s start by setting the scene…
A: “Sh*t, Christmas is close, what are we going to get Tim Spanton?”
B: “Oh yeah, Tim, he wrote that nice piece for us didn’t he…better keep him happy…will a lunch do?”
A: “Hmm, I don’t know, maybe he’d like a personalised Moleskine diary?”
B: “Yeah, bet he doesn’t have one of those, he’d love that, let’s do it.”
Now, I’m sure Tim would appreciate a nice lunch, and a Moleskine always comes in handy (even a slightly contrived personalised one) but I have come up with five other gifts you could consider giving him (and the rest of the media community) in 2010.
So, here we go, five real gifts PR’s can give Tim (and other journalists) this Xmas:
1. ‘Make, don’t fake.’ – An easy one: Know what ‘makes’ a story / feature for Tim.
Tim is part of the features team at The Sun. Now if you could put those two variables into an equation a very specific result would pop out. Only give him stuff that fits that criteria. I’m not going to do your job for you, but spending 15 minutes looking back at what he’s written about in the last few months wouldn’t hurt.
2. ‘Leave the phone alone.’ – Tim will call you if he likes your story / pitch, don’t bombard the guy with calls.
This might upset a few people, but I’d never call Tim before sending him an email outlining what the story is / was. Within a couple of lines he’ll work out if its one for him. If he likes it, I might get a call. If it’s not for him, I probably won’t (if he has time, he may drop me a quick email even)…or he’ll tell me to speak to the news desk. I know I hate having my time wasted, don’t waste a journo’s time with a ‘nothing’ call.
3. ‘Ban the blanket.’ – Understand what a personlised pitch / email is…it might help.
Just dropping ‘Dear Tim’ at the top of your email doesn’t make it personal. What makes it personal is before going to him, being honest with yourself and establishing that your story might be one for him. If you do that, you don’t need to tell him why it might be of interest, it’ll be obvious…hopefully.
4. ‘Bury your feelings deep’ – Package it up objectively, not emotionally.
It’s great (in fact, recommended) to be enthusiastic in the way you pitch stories to the media, but don’t ‘overcook’ it. You might think its the greatest story ever and you’ve invested a lot of time into it, but that’s not grounds for it to run. We often over-do things in PR, take a step back and be objective before you hit send, you’ll be respected for it.
5. ‘Accept the judges final decision.’ – He liked it, he wrote it up, but it didn’t make – it’s not his fault!
There’s nothing more exciting than a journo saying: ‘Yep, I’m filing some copy on this one, hopefully it’ll get a run.’ So if it doesn’t make, don’t turn the reason why it didn’t run into a witch hunt. You (and the journalist) can only do so much. Sadly space or a big story breaking is out of every one’s control, accept it and move on. Let sleeping dogs lie.
Now, if Tim ever reads this, he might turn around and say ‘No! Send me gifts…by the truck load!’ After all, who doesn’t like a nice present.
But, perhaps he (and his fellow scribes) might also like us to get the balance between doing our jobs well, and understanding the remit of our audience (the media) a little better.
Ho, ho, ho.