Over the years, I’ve heard some fascinating hot takes from laymen on why newspapers have not given their cherished projects the coverage they deserve.
Theories tend to point to assumed politics and/or Politics. The editor is a Tory, they only write about firms that advertise with them, they’re all West Ham fans, and so on, and so forth.
But the truth is that newspapers and their various, modern-day online spawn are typically too busy to have – or maybe just enforce – such coordinated agendas.
So here is the scoop… take care of the front end and the rest will follow.
What I mean by that is make the life of the reporter you are dealing with as easy as possible.
Because those (literally, unfortunately… disgracefully) poor souls are simply trying to feed the fire which fuels the relentless churn of the world-that-never-sleeps news cycle.
They are looking for easy wins – solid story angles (with terrific ones preferred) supported by the key building blocks of a good article.
Building blocks such as full-and-correctly spelt names. This may come as a shock to you but there are quite a few Daves in the Basildon locale. And we’re not goner get Dave Thingy past the production process.
Running names close, is ages. Remember that, ‘I think she is in her 50s or 60s’, sadly won’t do. Although if you are feeling brave, you can always go and tell that 52-year-old woman why she can pass for 68.
To the reading public, it also matters whether you are a Deliveroo-grafting renter or on the brink of becoming the local Cocoon care home’s next resident. It’s a substantial, contextual fact.
And on the job front, that information is pretty desirable too. Or at least profession, industry or relevant credentials.
If you can just hit those three notes with your pitch to the local paper you’ll be well ahead in the race for column inches.
Dress that up with a great photo – not the dimly-lit and dreadfully composed one where everyone just happened to have their eyes open – and some illuminating quotes, and you are golden my friend.
Secondary, useful advice is try your hardest not to be unnecessarily high-maintenance with quibbles about tone and delivery of the article.
Insist on it being factually correct, absolutely, but spare the qualified journalist your frustrated writer’s writing notes, or insight into the unimportant viewpoints of the subjects of the story.
For example, reporters don’t care that Nancy doesn’t quite like the way her hair looks in your group photo, or that Jeff will have his nose put out of joint because Steve is the one quoted.
Not only do they not care, you will actively encourage them to move your story to what was once known simply as ‘the spike’. I’m sure you can guess what that is.
Because when their editor is doing his Mr Angry routine and after copy for an expensive deadline, nobody on that newsdesk will want to hear how Nancy’s humidity-hating fringe just wouldn’t go right that day.
Names, ages, jobs, good photograph, quotes and a helpful attitude – a handy ten-word summary which I hope serves you well. Good luck.