Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Ten ways to impress a journalist

1. Don't bother to remember their beats. That's irrelevant. No matter what they cover, they will be interested in the product or person you represent.

2. Of course they want an 'interaction' with your client. They're turking for it. It doesn't matter whether their publication carries interviews. Or even if their publication covers the area in which your client operates. Your client is all that matters and they will see that if you email them three times. They'll thank you for it.

3. Send out emails, yes, but follow up with a phone call if they don't respond immediately and positively. That thing they say about emails saving time? Rubbish. The human touch is so important and so neglected in this hustling, bustling age.

4. Always call their cellphones, not the landlines that are listed on their visiting cards. That way you can reach them when they're out for a drink or getting some 'me time.' They will appreciate the gesture, since they would otherwise miss out on your important launch / event / interaction. And never call from your cellphone. This way, if they ever need to call you back late on production night to confirm something, they'll only have your office landline and they'll get your voicemail. This saves your 'me time' from being interrupted and the journo will remember this and respect your remarkable work:life balance. Respect is important.

5. Never send them links to large files. It would make the poor dears work extra hard to download them. Instead, send them large attachments which will fill up inboxes. This will ensure that your large attachments get their exclusive attention since they now won't get mail from pesky bosses, colleagues and the subjects of their stories. This will ensure that they never mark your ID as junk mail which will henceforth be delivered straight to the trash.
p.s. It may happen that your email might not get to its destination. You should ensure this does not happen by sending your message — with the large attachments — twice. Thrice for luck.

6. Oh, and never put the text of your press release into the body of the email. That is so last century. Instead, attach a large PDF file with plenty of pictures and fonts of many colours. This will demonstrate your aesthetic sense and technical skillz. (In your covering note, do remember to use SMSese and refer to the recipient as 'u.' Not only will they appreciate this liberty with the language amidst the shackles of their style guides and the frowns of their desk people, this also gives your email a nice non-businessy touch.)

7. Even if they're not working for a daily, which may need photos of your event (which they didn't send someone to cover despite your emails and phone follow-ups), to fill up space on a slow news day, send them pictures. Many of them. And remember: high-resolution images. This shows that you are highly professional and you know that they need print-quality images.

8. When you call, slip in a mention of the car that will pick the journalist up, and the place where they will be staying, even if you know that their publication has a no-freebies policy. Journos are easy to influence with a bit of posh treatment. And their publications won't mind; after all, these are recessionary times, and the news media is facing more cut-backs then ever before.

9. Time your emails so that they land up in the thick of the production cycle. That way the journalists' super-fine-tuned news antennae will recognise that they are important; they will then yell 'Stop The Presses!' (every journo secretly wants to do that) and include your press release in toto, dropping the story about Mr Big's secret deal / mistress.

10. Add them to your newsletter mailing lists without asking them. You're doing them a favour. They lead busy lives, so they don't have time to opt in, and they really appreciate your taking the trouble to do it for them. They're simple creatures, easy to please, without interests of their own, and your company's daily email will be a bright spot in their dull lives.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The #TwyttyrLytton contest

You've heard of the Bulwer-Lytton Prize, right? (If you haven't, get thee hence immediately. Come back when you're done!)

I think the problem with that otherwise brilliant contest is that the entries are, inevitably, very long. Take the 2010 winner:
For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss--a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil.
Great stuff, but, hey, can you retweet it?

So, gentlefolk, I propose the #TwyttyrLytton contest.

The basic rule is the same:
Outdo Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's opening sentence to Paul Clifford. ("It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.")

In addition:

• Entries must be posted on Twitter.
• Entries must be up to 125 characters long, including spaces, and include the #TwyttyrLytton hashtag. (125 characters is what you have left after the hashtag and a space.)
• The contest stays open 24/7.
• Winners will be decided by public acclaim. i.e., you'll get retweeted
• Prizes? Hah.
• Oh, and you give me permission to post my favourites to this blog.

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