Former Daily Mail journalist Natasha Courtenay-Smith has set up a website that aims to bridge the gap between the media and people with a story to tell.
Talktothepress.com accepts submissions from people across the UK who want to sell their personal stories, and then liaises with newspapers and magazines interested in running real-life pieces.
Courtenay-Smith came up with the idea for the site when she noted the increasing popularity of women’s weekly magazines and human-interest stories in newspapers.
She said that while the market was growing for human-interest stories,
it can be difficult for those with stories to sell to know the right channels to go through, how to pitch a story, and how to negotiate fees and contracts.
She said: ‘It’s not very nice to phone up a major newspaper and sort of mumble down the phone ‘Are you interested in this story?’ only to be told they’re too busy to deal with you.”
Courtenay-Smith has 10 years experience writing personal stories for national magazines and newspapers.
She said that Talktothepress.com advises people on whether their story is of potential interest to the national media, helps them decide which publications to target, and manages all of their contracts and fees. Newspapers and magazines can also contact the site seeking commissions for case studies.
Since its launch, Courtenay-Smith says the website has successfully placed a variety of stories in the national press, including the News of the World and the Daily Mail.
Past stories have included a woman claiming post-natal depression gave her a laxative addiction; a man who survived breast cancer; a woman whose husband and son are fighting in Iraq, and a woman who discovered she was the secret love child of a Sixties rock star.
All were paid for their stories, but Courtenay-Smith believes that it is not just the prospect of making money that draws people to the site.
She said: ‘For many, just having their say and getting their story out there meets a deep-seated need. This is either because they raise awareness about a subject close to their heart, raise money for charity, or they quite simply get the opportunity to set a record straight.’