Working Words. What to do before phoning a journalist

In this instalment of Working Words, we bring you two minutes of tips on how to prepare for a call with a journalist, ideas that will help you make the conversation useful for them, and for you.

Know your audience – and this refers to both the journalist and title. Take the time to do your research on both. There is nothing more frustrating for a journalist than to receive a call on a topic or issue that’s ultimately irrelevant. Not only are you wasting their time, you’re also wasting yours. Make sure that your topic is actually relevant to their readership, and that the journalist you’re calling covers the area you’re discussing.

Check you aren’t covering old ground – another aspect of doing your research. Even if you’ve checked the journalist and title are relevant, they won’t thank you for pitching a topic they actually wrote on last month. It highlights the fact you haven’t taken the time to read their work. This also brings in the relevance of making sure the issue you’re discussing is timely, and not something everyone was talking about weeks ago.

Keep it jargon free – journalists do not appreciate industry jargon, it only makes their job harder. This is especially true of national reporters who will have to translate your jargon into copy that the person on the street can understand.

Be prepared for a curve ball – there is always the possibility that a journalist may want to take your points in a slightly, or completely, different direction. Be open to change and interpreting a story in a different way – it’s the journalist’s role to think on issues critically and so it’s worth considering how your points might be taken from another viewpoint.

If you’re engaging with the media and need straight talking support, get in touch, we’re always happy to talk:

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