Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Image from here

I recently had help to launch a marketing purge in a bid to bring in some new real life stories to market to my clients in national women's magazines.

The response was amazing with many new leads created but it wasn't until I started to respond to the calls that I found myself in a whirl of making calls that just led to me chasing my tail for a good couple of months.

The stories were all great. There was the young couple who had been ostracised by their families because he dumped her friend for her and her parents thought he was a user and a waster but now they are happily settled down with a new baby on the way, all is forgiven.

Two things I always make clear is that the story must be original - it must not have appeared elsewhere before - and people must be prepared to be photographed. The couple agreed but at the point where there was real interest in their story, they suddenly decided they didn't want any photos used but they were happy to give me their words.

I explained again that the story would not work without pictures and so, without an apology, they just backed out leaving me with a week's wasted work in their wake. It's not such a big deal as it has happened before but disappointing none the less.

Then there was the uplifting story of forgiveness from a child, now grown up, whose dad - jailed for neglect because of the tragedy of falling into drug use - never got the chance to make things right because he was murdered in prison. There is so much more to say about this story but the lady concerned, who needs the consent of another family member, shied away because others were not as keen to share the story as she was. I hope she will change her mind and come back to me at some point as this is the most moving story I have heard in a long time. Either way. I wish her family well.

I can't even begin to list the respondents to the ad who gave numbers that didn't connect, those who never picked up at all despite several calls, and those who claimed "it wasn't me, you've got the wrong number" when I eventually made contact.

Then there was one lady who spoke to me about a poignant story of child abuse. All very relevant stuff as old traumatic and buried memories surface due to the scandal that is Jimmy Savile.

The horror stories being told about this alleged perverse DJ has reawakened nightmares of lost childhood innocence at the hands of others for too many of the 60s, 70s, and 80s generation although this respondent's case was not related to Savile or any other celebrity of the day.

I worked a couple of days doing some research and thinking of the best angle to approach this from and when I phoned the lady back to check details, ask about photos, I only got as far as saying that it was me when she hung up immediately. I did try again, giving her the benefit of the doubt that we got inadvertently cut off, but she didn't pick up. I guess some stories take courage to tell but those who do often find it a cathartic experience.

One touching story of triumph over extreme adversity did come to fruition. A sample photo was supplied, information provided, teaser written and approved, and then a moment of cold feet as the lady concerned suddenly questioned who she was dealing with.

She does trust me now, and trust is very important. I managed to assure her that I was genuine with many years experience of dealing with the national press and writing for magazines but after one rejection from a magazine which held her story for almost two weeks to consider, we now have to start the process again.

Magazine features can only work with consent of the person featured so there is never going to be case where I take details of a story and run with it. At every stage of the process it is important to keep the subject informed so that it goes as smoothly as possible to publication - and nothing comes back to bite us afterwards.

I now have a new batch of stories to chase and I can only hope they don't lead to yet another two months of chasing my tail and getting nowhere.

Meanwhile if you think you have a story that might work for a magazine feature then please do get in touch

And if you don't have one yourself, perhaps friends or family might so please feel free to share this post with all your contacts.

Although many people do not tell their stories just to make cash, magazines will pay regardless and with Christmas up and coming, any story commissioned now could lead to a nice nest egg to help with the festive expense.

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