Last month, Jeremy Pepper wrote a blog post saying PR pros have become too dependent on things like email to pitch reporters. In the comments section, Jeremy says the post was mainly a primer for entry-level PR people not to use technology as a crutch.
That reminded me about the many times I’ve heard people point to junior-level PR types as the major culprits when it comes to not picking up the phone to pitch. That may be true, but only because they’re usually the ones doing all the pitching. Too many senior-level PR people don’t actually pitch stories.
Yes, that’s one of the main responsibilities for junior-level people. But it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re not throwing them to the wolves. I have a friend who was told to pitch The Wall Street Journal on her first day at her first agency job out of college. She stumbled through the phone call, annoyed the reporter and felt like a tool.
I think one reason younger PR folks avoid the phone is because they are petrified of getting yelled at or becoming the subject of a pissed off reporter’s new blog post. That’s why we need to be purposeful and persistent in sharing media relations best practices with them from day one
Jeremy shares a couple tips for them on his post in regards to picking up the phone to pitch. Here are a few more that I’ve found helpful:
- Encapsulate the story in one brief sentence for your opening. For example, “Bob, my name is David Mullen. I have a story about a high-profile family overcoming personal tragedy to found a camp for sick kids. Do you have a minute?” Bob will know right away if he’s interested enough to hear more or not.
- Don’t launch into your pitch without asking if he “has a minute.” That annoys most people, not just journalists.
- Capitalize on a “no.” If he hears you out, but isn’t interested, take a second to ask what topics he is interested in for future reference.
- Keep it in perspective. My first boss said, “if you call 10 reporters and seven say ‘no,’ that can seem like a bad media relations outing. BUT keep it in perspective. Batting .300 will get you in the Hall of Fame.”
Your turn to help. What tidbits would you add to help young pros approach media relations with more confidence and better results?
*Image by Alexander O’Neill.