How To (Phone) Pitch The Media
You may be a natural salesman, and your clients may indeed love you, but you’re playing a different game when you’re contacting the media. You are entering a very specific phone world. You may be a great person one-on-one, with a winning smile and a firm handshake, but that won’t get you far over the phone. You may be an extremely successful high-pressure telemarketer, but remember, here you’re dealing with a different, more weary, more sophisticated audience. Making PR follow-up calls can be a difficult proposition. Be candid with yourself. Do you have a personality that works over the phone? If the phone intimidates you, or if you come off gruff, demanding, or impatient over the phone, don’t make the calls yourself, hire someone to make them on your behalf.
You need to be painfully honest with yourself. Most of us don’t like to admit that there are areas that aren’t our forte. But none of us are proficient in everything. Developing a good pitch and writing a strong press release are important, but you also need to have an effective follow-up plan, which could include learning to communicate differently.
Don’t try to be everything to all people. If you’re uncomfortable on the phone, too shy and passive or too demanding and pushy, consider either learning how to adjust your approach, or consider having someone else make the calls. Otherwise you’re not doing you and you’re business any favors. You’re only going to hurt your chances for success. You may be a good field general when it comes to your business, but what you need here is a savvy diplomat. You may not even be aware that you have a weak phone voice, or you talk too quickly, or you’re too aggressive, or your tone is too confrontational over the phone. You might figure you’re you and they better like it. But the aim here is to make sure that the media likes the pitch. A part of that is making sure you have an interesting compelling story to tell, but how that story is pitched is of equal importance. Both the message and the messenger have to be on target.
So take a step back and evaluate yourself objectively. Ask someone who you trust to give you feedback. It will do you no good to have a great story to pitch and then alienate the media by making poor follow-up calls. Know you strengths and your weaknesses. It will pay off in the long run.