Sometimes I feel like nothing but a telemarketer.
That’s right, I feel like a salesperson pitching crap to people over the phone.
Is it really so different? You’re calling people, who you’ve most likely never spoken to before. You’re trying to get them to talk to you. To answer your questions. Sometimes they don’t want to, and they’ll do everything in their power to wriggle free. You try and try, you rephrase, you try to sell yourself. Sometimes it just plain doesn’t work.
You try to coax the magic quote out of them. To get them to elaborate, to keep them talking, keep them listening. If it’s a controversial topic, something they don’t want to discuss, you try to get around that in the way you word your query. And you need the balls to keep asking, to keep hammering away.
I realised this because today, I dealt with someone who was happy to talk to me. Someone not used to the media, someone genuine, someone whose story I just wanted to hear and who was happy to share it.
It was just a relief. Such a welcome change from weary, wary people – and don’t get me wrong, I can more than understand WHY many of them are that way – who are afraid to utter a single word on the record, even when it’s totally non controversial, and actually in their interests.
It made me realise how differently I can, and need to, handle ordinary people. Not business people, not politicians, who we have to hound and harangue constantly, and usually to no avail. People who actually return calls, and emails, and even pick up their phone sometimes. Perhaps even more amazing, today I received immediate responses from one political office. I took the measure of emailing two separate people with the same enquiry, expecting to hear back from neither. But both replied within the hour. I almost felt stupid and amateurish, even though the opposite was true.