OPINION: The Big Question - How does the election affect your ability to sell stories into the media? With the run-up to 7 June dominating the news agenda, are PROs encountering difficulties getting their clients in print?

JULIAN HENRY, Henry's House

'Selling stories to the media often involves linking your agenda to big

events - like the Cup Final or Christmas - and so, in this respect, the

election is no different. The actual bread and butter of party politics

is pretty dreary and so we tend to have most fun with the frivolous and

eccentric human interest stories that emerge during the pre-election

period. And, oddly enough, the more trivial the story, the more likely

it is to make it into print, simply because the picture desks are

desperate to try and get away from men in suits kissing babies and

shaking hands with grannies. When the campaign goes beyond vote-grabbing

and becomes really interesting, 'PR puff' stories get elbowed off the

agenda altogether.'

NANCY PRENDERGAST, Gnash Communications

'So far, the election hasn't really affected our ability to sell

stories. If you're a smart PRO, you can use the election to sell in

stories rather than let it push stories out. The election is not that

exciting this time, but it can create opportunities for coverage if you

respond quickly to news and support what your client is doing. I have

been impressed by Panlogic and their 'Splat the MP' virtual game, which

they were able to turn around very quickly playing on the Prescott

incident. There are all sorts of election angles within the new media

space. We recently met the DTI regarding the Communications White Paper,

which will be a clarion call for anyone using the net, and were able to

generate coverage by tieing that in with the election. '

JIM HORSLEY, Nexus Choat

'The short answer is 'both positively and negatively'. Election coverage

generates a multitude of opportunities, if you're quick enough - even

for a spot of brand coverage. We developed and sold in Britain's first

'general election for teenagers' in record time to Poppets because the

client recognised the timeliness of the idea. Generating coverage at

this time has its drawbacks, however. Ministers are certainly keen to

avoid eggs at election time, it seems! We were looking to use the Prime

Minister to generate media interest in the success of our British Lion

Eggs programme. We wanted to deliver (not throw) some eggs to Mr Blair

to coincide with the publication of a Government report that highlighted

a dramatic reduction in salmonella in eggs. It seems Mr Blair was busy

elsewhere when we planned to deliver eggs to Number 10 last week. I'm

sure Mr Prescott wishes he had the same sense of timing!'

EMMA GILPIN, Time/Fortune

'Both Time and Fortune regularly cover elections as part of our ongoing

analysis of international politics and business. The majority of Time

and Fortune's media relations activity is focused around promoting our

news and feature coverage within other media, both print and broadcast

We sell in individual stories that feature within Time and Fortune and

our editors and journalists regularly appear on TV and radio as

commentators on the big news of the day around Europe. So, in general,

elections are a great - and busy - time for us because we can offer both

the relevant, timely editorial in our own publications and the credible

comment of journalists who have been working on election stories.'

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