July 12, 2011 Leave a comment
You’ve come up with your story ideas and pitch angles, you’ve written your press release, you’ve sent out the email pitches and you’ve placed your release on one of the paid wire services and… nothing! Not one editor or producer has called to interview you or write a feature on you. You’ve done everything right and everything’s gone wrong. What now?
Time to turn to that small hand-held device that blinks and buzzes and rings (in an endless variety of tones). Yep, the phone. While you could pick it up and see if that editor or producer ever read your emailed press release, I can already tell you that chances are 99.9% that your release was never read. Don’t be discouraged, however. Instead pick up the phone and interest the media in your story, not to try and sell your product or service, but to offer the media a compelling story idea that appeals to them. There’s an idea.
An effective phone pitch is rarely jazzy or funny (although it can be both) but one that is real and genuine. Your objective is to briefly and succinctly let the media know how and why this story idea will work for them and their viewers or readers. It’s not the time to try to sell. Be you when you present the story. It’s best to pretend as though you are not calling someone who’s in the media when presenting this pitch. It’s important that your enthusiasm is evident in both your voice and your delivery. You don’t want to sound like a salesperson but like someone who is truly interested in the topic and wants to share it with others.
Review your press release and break it down into the most important bullet points. When you’re doing the phone pitch you won’t have time to pitch the full release and you definitely don’t want to read a pitch verbatim from your release. You’ll sound like a robot, which will make you less believable. But do use your bullet points from the release as an aid. Have them in front of you and let them guide what you want to say. Don’t insist on sticking to a scripted approach. It’s a conversation and as with any conversation it will ebb and flow and have its own rhythm.
Come up with the most compelling aspects of the story and lead with those. Introduce yourself and let the producers or editors know that you’d like to give them a story idea. Be polite and respectful. Before starting your pitch, ask them whether or not it is a convenient time for them to talk. If they say it’s not a good time, thank them and ask if you can email a release and call at a later date. Find out when would be a good time, thank them and get off the phone.
If the answer is yes, start your pitch and keep it concise. Remember you don’t have to tell your whole story. You want to hit the highlights, the points that make it interesting. And you want to illustrate why this story is a great fit for the particular media outlet you’re pitching. When to make your pitch, how to pitch national versus local and how to leave a voice mail pitch will be covered in my next article.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011