The Musk-have interview – how to spot a story

How I got to interview Elon Musk…by Deep South Media’s Ed Baker

Some years ago when Friends Reunited was the only real social media platform, I spotted a website report about a crazy South African-born entrepreneur who was planning to blast rockets into space.

It seemed like a decent tale, so being an agency journalist I called his Space X business in the US, never expecting to get through.

His PA took a message and said Elon would call me back. Yeah, yeah, I thought.

But that evening at home he phoned me. I grabbed a pen and pad and we had an interesting chat about space, Richard Branson’s efforts in the same direction and man’s future beyond our planet.

Top man, Elon.

Most speculative calls I put in like this never got a response. Even some MPs refused to speak to me – one particularly pompous one declined by saying he only spoke to editors.

He has now left parliament and entered complete obscurity where he belonged all along.

Compare that with former Prime Minister Edward Heath who I called about a story in about 2002. He was listed in the phone book under: Heath, Edward. He answered the phone, and my questions, and didn’t think anything of it.

It was always interesting to see who would return calls. Some you wouldn’t expect to take your calls, such as members of the aristocracy or landed gentry, were often ‘delighted’ or ‘charmed’ to speak – one of them even took my questions while on horseback preparing to hunt.

The Elon Musk ‘Space X’ story made a couple of columns in the Times as I recall, earning the agency a meagre sum.

But without spotting the kernel of a story about his space exploits I wouldn’t have picked up the phone and the Times wouldn’t have had its story.

Identifying a story is not as easy as people think. What is of interest to a business is not the same as what interests readers.

So often I’ve turned up at a business to hear what they want to promote, and while there and talking to staff identify a much better story that they would never have considered.

Talking to people remains the best way to find stories – a skill that the younger generations don’t value as much, it seems.

Indeed one young charge I was sitting next to in the newsroom would email me rather than speak.

Businesses looking to promote themselves might not be aware of what makes them interesting. This is where Deep South Media comes in.

Being experienced journalists we can identify what will interest readers and news editors.

It might well be something the business had simply not considered.

But more than identifying the story, Deep South Media can ensure it receives maximum publicity through all available channels.

And the cost would be a fraction of an advert…

To find out if your business has any scoops lying dormant contact Deep South Media.

Our MD, Ron Wain, is available for a friendly, no-obligation chat.

You can contact Ron via DM on his LinkedIn, or email If you prefer, please contact him on 01202 534487.