Volume 3, No. 11
May 5, 2008
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Phone Pitching Essentials
I thought about calling this issue "Phone Pitching Made Easy," but that would be misleading. Even seasoned PR pros find this to be one of the most challenging aspects of our jobs. PR pros don't like to think of ourselves as sales people. But pitching a story to a reporter is like trying to make a sale. You should understand the customer's needs. When dealing with busy journalists, you must also be able to pique their interests quickly.
Research Before You Make the Call
Be sure you are calling the right person. Research online and read, listen or watch the media outlet you want to pitch. Be sure the reporter you call covers the type of story you're pitching. Unless you are pitching a small town newspaper or radio station, don't call a news organization's upper management, e.g. Executive Editors, News Directors. They don't routinely make story selections.
Keep Your Pitch Short
Shorten the opening greeting by eliminating your last name and don't use the words, "I'm representing." Say, "Hi, I'm Gina and I'm with X corporation." After the initial greeting, keep your opening statement to 10 seconds or less. Pause, then listen for the reaction before continuing with the details.
Put the Hook In the First 10 Seconds
Why the story would be of interest to the reporter's audience is your most important point. This opening statement says how the audience will benefit or why they would care. The reporter also needs within that first 10 seconds to understand the subject matter. So don't be vague or confusing.
Write a Script and Practice
Don't start calling until you have written down your pitch and have practiced it. Test it on a friend or two first to see if it makes sense and grabs their attention. Write the pitch in bulleted points starting with your 10 second opening. List your follow up points in order of importance.
Close By Asking For the Interview
If the reporter has expressed definite interest, ask when he or she would like to interview your company's representatives. If the reporter won't commit, offer to e-mail additional information and to follow up with a call at a future date.