Former door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman John Reinan says he often compares that college-era job to media relations, his current occupation. He cites five things that apply to both positions:
* It’s tough to sell junk. “When I’m pitching a story I think is weak, it’s harder to be a smooth salesman.”
* A little patter helps. Start off with friendly chit-chat, unless a reporter “emanates a get-down-to-it vibe so intense that you can immediately sense it over 1,000 miles of fiber-optic line. In that case, I dispense with the pleasantries and launch right in.”
* People can be jerks. Doors are often slammed, and phone calls ended abruptly. “You have to shrug it off.”
* Know exactly what you’re selling and why they should buy it. “Hesitation can be fatal to the sale.”
* You never know which door your next sale is behind. It could be a vacuum cleaner sold, or a story idea picked up by a reporter.