Insights from PRSA Pitching Boot Camp

29 Jun Insights from PRSA Pitching Boot Camp

Thursday morning I had the opportunity to attend a PRSA Pitching Boot Camp with renowned media pitching coachMichael Smart.

I first heard about Michael Smart in a SpeakerBox pitch camp hosted by our own Jonathan Katz. If you can’t tell by his blog posts, it’s not easy to get Jonathan’s stamp of approval. So, when I saw that Michael Smart was giving a training, I knew it would be worthwhile.

I got a lot of great information out of the workshop, too much for one blog post, but I wanted to highlight one of my biggest takeaways from the event: Phone Pitching.

In my opinion, phone pitching is one of the more intimidating aspects of PR. We’ve all heard stories of bad experiences – like coming across a reporter who isn’t interested in your story and finds it offensive that you think they might be. The last thing I wanted was to be that person.

After the event, I really started examining that fear. What exactly is so terrifying about phone pitching? I don’t want to bother people? I’m worried about them saying no? And then I thought, who cares? If a reporter says no you gain information from that, you know more about what doesn’t work for them. If the worst thing a person can do is hang up and the best thing they can do is write a story, the risk seems pretty worth the reward.

Here are a few of Michael Smart’s phone pitching tips:

  • Resist the urge to formally introduce yourself, if they want to know more they’ll find that information out later.
  • Reference their earlier work…and don’t fake it. Reporters will be able to tell if you googled their name and mentioned the first story that popped up.
  • Ask for more time. You don’t need to give your whole pitch upfront, give them the gist and then ask if it’s something they’re interested in learning more about.
  • Keep getting their voicemail? Leave a message briefly telling your story and telling them that you’re sending a pitch right now and what time it is–then they’ll know what to go back to if they’re interested.
  • Be persistent and follow up one more time than you think you should. Lets be honest, there’s a good chance they’ve just deleted your emails.

Be casual and be confident. Be sincere and be specific. Most importantly, be brutally brief.

As Michael Smart said: you can’t guarantee that you will get a story placed, but you owe it to your client to get a story considered.

Sally McHugh
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