Let me entertain you


We ran a story a while ago (it was obviously pre-Covid) about the etiquette of dinner parties, and specifically the right time for guests to head home. Various writers chipped in with their opinions and I was horrified at the number who thought it right to leave the moment they’d scraped their pudding plate clean.

No, no, no. As a guest you have a duty, in exchange for your host’s largesse, to provide lively debate and conversation at least until after tea or coffee. That’s the contract. They entertain you, you entertain them. You literally have to sing for your supper.

And it’s the same when you approach a journalist: you’ve got to put a bit of an effort in, to try to entertain.

The majority of so-called pitches I receive are basically a press release. “Here are details about my client. I’d love for you to write about them.”

I bet you would, but you are asking me to do all the work, to take your email, think up an angle, put a pretty bow on it and gift it back to you. It’s the WHY that’s the hard bit, not the WHAT, and that’s where you need to do more of the legwork.

A restaurant that has appointed a new chef; a snack company that’s introduced a flavour of crisps; a supermarket that’s launched a Christmas range: these are two a penny. But tell me why I should write about them and it might just be the start of a conversation.

And who knows where that can lead?