Tuesday, 16 March 2010

My name is Michael Caine

How do you create a great contacts list? How many bragging journalists have you heard say "Yeah I got his number."? First of all before we go any further having "his" number means nothing.  I remember many years ago I wanted to invite Michael Caine on a show I was the Producer.  This was before mobile phones but I had his home telephone number.  I picked my time with care, it was early evening and the phone rang and the unmistakable voice of Michael Caine answered it.  "Ello" to which I said who I was and what I wanted.  His reply was "Well Michael Caine aint here so f*ck off." Then he slammed the phone down. So you can have all the numbers you want unless they are a proper contact you might as well carry around a copy of the phone book.

Repetition and familiarity will help you with the Press Officers of this world, they are there principally to guard the interest of the company, group or politician they represent.  But once they get to know you and think they can trust you, the pathway to getting the guest you want becomes a little more easier.

The other thing to bear in mind is the way PR and PO's hop around jobs, I know the credit crunch has slowed this down, but there was a time when I would blithely call a PRs mobile and get half way through a guest bid before they told me they no longer work for XYZ instead they're with  ABC and would try and foister their rotten old guest on you.

So cherish your true contacts, network with them, give them a reason to call you.  There's nothing better than a publisher calling with just the right guest because they know from talking to you in the past what your show is looking for.

And if all else fails steal the whole contacts diary from your newsroom.  I know somebody who did this and still has a very good job working on BBC TV!

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