27th May 2016

Breakfast with The Telegraph

I recently attended a breakfast briefing with James Quinn and Ben Wright, business editors at The Daily Telegraph. With over 200 buzzing media enthusiasts in attendance at one of the busiest spots in London, it was certainly an eye opening experience, especially at 8am!

From what they class as a ‘good story’, to how they find the right home for different content, James and Ben gave a brilliant insight into the inner workings of one of the country’s most prestigious quality news desks.

So, what exactly is a Telegraph-worthy story and what makes these two journalists in particular tick? Here’s my top five most important (and useful) tips to take note of:

No matter what size the company is, if it’s a great story it will happen

Same goes for profile opportunities – it doesn’t have to be C-suite level as long as the angle’s right. Of course, the CEO of a big household brand is unlikely to be turned down, but if it makes a good story, comment or profile, job title is irrelevant.

Consider video content

For a few years now, the media group has taken a ‘digital first’ approach. Something that was once considered controversial, it seems to be paying off for The Telegraph and they’re always looking to tell a great story with original content. While it’s certainly a learning experience for all – both journalists are open to ideas for video series.

When asked what makes a great video they explained: “Something engaging, interesting and allows the viewer to learn something they wouldn’t in text.” An example they gave was ‘how to add value to your home’ – something readers will want to watch.

Supportive and interesting commentary keeps the business pages going

A few members of the audience alluded to the same question: with the circulation of print newspapers in decline, what keeps the Telegraph Business pushing forward? The mutual agreement was that it’s all down to supporting businesses. While other publications may fill their pages by knocking business leaders down, The Telegraph Business team is dedicated to being a ‘critical friend of business.’ Equally, taking a different angle on a story and analysing the real impact it has on businesses on a global scale is essentially what keeps them going.

Never leave a voicemail – email is the way forward

Contrary to popular belief, NONE of The Telegraph journalists listen to their voicemails. In fact, James and Ben don’t remember ever gaining access. Unsurprisingly, this was unheard of to the audience who (judging by the shocked faces around the room) leave voicemails on a regular basis.

Another point on pitching – follow up calls are a big no no. If they’re interested, they’ll get in touch.

They do like to get out and meet people…and also host interviews in their offices

When approaching the pair with an idea or comment from a CEO, always consider if it’s logistically possible to arrange a face-to-face meet-up. Not only does it get them out the office (which from the sounds of it, is a rare occurrence), but it also allows them to really get to know the expert in question and means they’re  more likely to approach them for comment again and again.

In terms of when and where, they advised that they sometimes have interviewees in their offices, but not as often as they’d like. It can be difficult for them to go out and meet people given how busy their days can get quite quickly, so if you can bring an expert to them for an interview, that’s even better.

All in all, it was a great event and for someone working in the B2B sector, certainly useful when it comes to the sometimes (especially for more junior team members) daunting task of a national sell in. Just remember, if the story is good or you have a solid angle for an interview, get in touch – they want to hear from us as much as we want to hear from them!

By Amy Cantrill, Senior B2B Account Executive