Our jobs as journalists are not straightforward. In theory, we are there to inform our readers, to tell them what’s going on beyond their white-picket-fences in Surbiton or their penthouses in Shoreditch. To bring them the truth about the world.
In practice, though, we’re also there to entertain (who doesn’t buy The Times on Saturday to be cheered by Hugo Rifkind’s My Week, or subscribe to Matt’s cartoons on Instagram? If you don’t, then do; they’ll kickstart your weekend with a smile.)
Because different parts of the paper have different approaches, as a PR it’s probably wise to figure out the news hounds from the entertainers, the critics from the soft-feature writers – and tailor what you send them.
In the fashion section of The Times, for instance, the editor is extremely unlikely to waste her column writing about things she thinks are ugly, or cheap-looking. She knows her readers don’t want to spend their well-earned money looking at a whole lot of nasty dresses that no one wants to buy.
They want a choice of beautiful things from expert who knows her stuff, and can tell them who makes the best items, where to get it and how to wear it.
I apply the same principles to my travel pages. I spend my days sifting through websites, through press releases, through trade magazines, and sitting through conferences and PR meetings to try and sniff out the most fabulous places to stay, so our readers don’t have to think about it. My job is to be their luxury holiday hound.
So it always puzzles me when PRs send me releases on Budget Inns, or “Cheap Deals” and “No Frills Getaways”, or hideous old golf resorts filled with furniture from the 1970s.
I don’t work on the news page, or the Last Minute Deals page, or Budget Golfers Weekly.
Cheap and ugly is not my world and exposing those sorts of truths not in my remit. So why send them to me?