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Thinking Outside Your Zone

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One of the first things you learn as a trainee journalist is what makes something newsworthy. (Dog bites man is not news. Man bites dog is.)

But punters don’t buy papers only for news. Other things these days get as much, if not more, attention from readers. Columns for instance (whose writers have the greatest following of all). Or interviews (who doesn’t want to read an exclusive on Daniel Craig – particularly if the pictures are gorgeous – on their way into work?)

As well as a whole lot of other regular sections: in The Times, Bricks & Mortar on Friday, Fashion on Wednesday, Fitness on Saturday.

Which means for a PR is that there are lots of great areas throughout a publication in which your client could feature – not to mention journalists who write across all sections. Anna Murphy, The Times fashion editor, for instance, travels as much as, if not more than, the travel editor and has a massive readership. So persuade her to go to a new hotel, and write about it, and thousands of her fashion followers might think about going too.

Anne Ashworth, the property editor, commissions regular interviews with both well-known people at home – and not-so-well-known people in their palatial city pads or glorious holiday homes. Which means that a fashion designer, as well as having their collections featured in the Fashion pages, might be the focus of a Q&A in the Property section – and a travel agent who happens to have a spectacular palazzo in Italy might get a double-page spread.

Recently, a PR from a big fashion brand got in touch to say that she had built a house in Bali. Although I don’t work for the Property section, the story was compelling. The house was sensational and brand new (so newsworthy). Her taste fitted perfectly with the aesthetic of Times Luxx (so easy to slot in). She’d fallen in love with Bali and moved there to build the house (and which journalist doesn’t like a story about good old-fashioned adventure on the other side of the world?). And, being a fashion PR who understands the importance of the image, the photographs she’d commissioned of both herself and her house were suitably glam.

In fact, it was all so compelling that she inspired me to commission a story about cool new houses to rent in Bali for the Times Luxx Travel Report. It’s had lots of traction, so I’m happy. And she is thrilled by the coverage. Win-win.


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