How to Make Pitch Calls Less Boring
Every month, Jason Salzman of Cause Communications and organizer of the True Spin Conference, sends out the Progressive PR Jobs Newsletter. It has great PR tips and a list of jobs in the PR field. You can subscribe to it here.
In March's newsletter, Jason wrote, "A big problem with PR is that pitching reporters can be so boring and degrading—even if it’s among the most important jobs in the progressive movement. What to do?"
To answer this question, he asked several people for their solutions. They gave some great tips:
Danielle Lewis, Senior Account Executive, Spitfire Strategies, wrote:
My attitude on this is that it’s only degrading if you let yourself be degraded. That means if you come in contact with a nasty reporter who treats you like a PR hack, letting it roll off your back. I’ve certainly been insulted and screamed at while pitching, but for every rude reporter there’s five who are genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say. And if you give respect – by not overselling, by being honest, by choosing your timing carefully, by knowing who you are pitching and what they care about – you usually get respect in return.
The other thing that can make pitching torture is being forced to sell a bad story because your boss or your client just wants to see their organization’s name in print. There needs to be a change in thinking higher up in social-change organizations that you only pitch when you truly have a good story – something actually newsworthy – and when the goal is not just to get a lot of clips but rather to use that media coverage for some greater strategic goal.
Andrew Posey, Vice President, Hershey/Cause, wrote:
I think pitching reporters should be neither boring or degrading...and that if you have a good story, are using data correctly, and you are targeting publications correctly, it can be a breeze compared to what folks in the corporate sector are required to pitch. We, in this sector, are actually fortunate in our ability to pitch causes that are both important and newsworthy. One of the issues is the single-mindedness (we are right, this IS a story) of advocates who fail to address media and those audiences that aren’t in their camps, with messages/efforts that look at the issue without really seeing/framing the story they want covered based on self interest/POV of others.
Also, I’ve found that just because you are an advocate, even a smart and informed one, doesn’t mean you are cut out for the cold calling (really, the sales aspect) required in media outreach. Some folks are better behind the scenes.
Tony Newman, Drug Policy Alliance, wrote:
Pitching is CRUCIAL!! With the flood of emails and faxes going to reporters, the personal call becomes even more and more important!!
It is not uncommon for us to make 50 calls when we are pitching a story! After a while you can end up getting in a good rhythm! You can’t get discouraged if you end up leaving lots of messages or even talk to people who are not interested. If even 3 reporters out of 50 end up doing a story, that is a huge success!! Those 3 stories may reach hundreds of thousands of people!!
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