- make an unsolicited call on (someone), by phone or in person, in an attempt to sell goods or services.
Ah, yes. A very popular tool amongst the sales folks. Welp, I’m going to hijack the term and let you know cold-calling is something reporters can add to their toolbox too.
How about: “make an unsolicited call on (someone), by phone or in person, in an attempt LEARN!”
I think as journalists we sometimes forget how helpful people can, and want to be.
For example, if you regularly attended an editorial news meeting in the fourth quarter of 2020, someone likely pitched ‘lumber prices’.
They were high. Much higher than normal, but why? Supply? Yes, but why?
I needed some answers. So I Googled lumber yards and picked one that appeared to be locally-owned to avoid the corporate permission obstacles.
Our conversation went a little something like this:
“My name is Heather Poltrock. I work at Channel 7. I know the lumber industry is seeing some unusual pandemic-related problems, especially pricing and I want to know if you can help me understand what is going on so we can better tell the story. Not for an on-camera interview, just for my understanding.”
Our conversation lasted nearly a half-hour and turned into many story ideas.
Here’s the dets. The problem was rooted in the worker shortage plus low-interest rates.
The best questioned I ask—“What do you think the solution is?”
That answer was the most valuable component of our conversation and I’m glad I thought to ask it.
I’ve used this approach many times without really intentionally dubbing it a strategy.
Our job as journalists is to answer questions, but if you’re not educated enough on the topic to ask the right questions you won’t be able to do a very good job.
Best of luck on your questions quest!