Selling a story need not be painful

Agony uncle and University of Westminster's visiting professor of PR Trevor Morris gives it to you straight.

We are often told by our boss to call journalists to sell in a story. This is always unpleasant and totally ineffective. Why does she make us do it?

I’m afraid she is repeating the errors of her elders. It’s the old chestnut: have you got 20 years’ experience or one year 20 times over? For most journalists getting a call from a PR asking "did you get my press release?" is like you being called at home by someone who asks "did you get my junk mail?"

Done well, selling in to a journalist can be effective and even enjoyable. Consider what the story is from the journalist’s point of view – announcements, new products and surveys are not news in themselves. Develop an elevator pitch summary of your story and try it on a colleague, making sure to avoid hyperbole, speaking too fast and too much detail. Only then should you call a journalist.

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