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Happy Hangers-On

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Happy hangers-on

I was (honestly) looking with ugly envy at the big travel hitters that Roxhill has lined up for its speed-pitching event just after Easter. Chris Haslam! Sarah Hartley! Greg Dickinson! Claire Irvin! I mean, I write regularly for the Times desk, and I’ve still maybe had less than five messages from Claire in my life. Cripes. Well jel. If you see a “PR” (ahem) who looks suspiciously like that journalist Richard Mellor at the Mortimer House do, it’s our secret, okay? 

Claire is one of those travel VIPs — and there are plenty of others — that can seem impossible to befriend. Depressingly, there is probably more chance of James Maddison still playing for Leicester next season than of these people replying to you. And yet, every now and again I’ll be forwarded an email whose trail, below, shows, one of these elusive figures in a shockingly pally, perky conversation with a PR or journalist. So, it is possible; but only for the chosen few. 

How to earn membership in such select clubs? Seducing some of these ephemeral journalists (talking of which, has anyone verified yet that Andy Pietrasik actually exists?), may, unfortunately, require hosting them, their entire family and their 14 dogs on a private, all-expenses-paid, three-week Galapagos cruise with a Michelin-starred chef. But, for others, it could come down to nothing more than having a good idea. With me, that’s the case: you need to have strong, topical hooks and some luck in terms of timing. 

What definitely doubles your chances, however, is meeting these VIPs whenever the chance arises. Because relationships forged in person are far likelier to endure than those formed electronically.  

To double those odds again, follow this three-stage plan. One, arrive at said event armed with your best hook practised and ready to parrot in succinct fashion — ideally including a suggested, catchy headline. Two, stay until the end: this is when, a little looser (a little boozier), journalists tend to relax. Three, never interrupt, nor just bowl in and pitch.

Instead, be matey, un-pushy and always promising of brevity. “I’m only going to try and sell you one idea,” you’ll say, smiling, “and I’ll keep it really quick.” 

It might not work at all. But how many chances will you ever have to try, you lucky sods?

What Richard Thinks…

“The Maldives is a hard destination to promote, but this “myth-busting” pitch, apparently written by Lucy at J Public Relations, is a canny way to go about it.”

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