When Pitching the Media, Keep it Brief

Unless you’ve been on the receiving end of a story pitch, you likely don’t appreciate the urgency of being succinct in those interactions.

Having been on the receiving end of such pitches for about 20 years, I can assure you that the goal ought NEVER be selling the reporter, editor or producer on a story–that’s asking too much, too soon.

When I reach their voicemails (the usual scenario, as most don’t pick up the phone), I leave a brief message with the gist of my call and a heads-up that I’m about to e-mail more detailed information.

Those e-mails all lead with the phrase “Following up from the voice mail I just left for you…”

When reaching an individual directly, my first goal is to pledge brevity. How I typically start: “Are you on deadline, or is this a good time to talk for 30 seconds?”

Such a courtesy signals that I know their world—and I am not about to waste their time. Saying “30 seconds” is intentional—when people trot out “Do you have a minute?” they usually don’t mean 60 seconds, but upwards of 10 minutes.

Now, if someone starts to engage you and you stay on the phone longer, that’s great. But it has to be their call.

Your objective in calling is not to “close a sale” as they cheerily promise to crank out a story. Rather than closing anything, you want them to open up.

Warm ‘em up to the idea that the e-mail you’re about to send is worth serious consideration, instead of the reflexive tap of the DELETE key.

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`While You’re Up’ PR Like Ice Cream Clean-Up: How Can You Carve Up the Moment Some More?

Like old times: my dad carves up a half gallon of ice cream.

What do empty ice cream bowls and public relations have in common? In my experience, anyway, both revolve around what you might call a “While You’re Up” philosophy.

First, a bit of family history will help set the scene. A fond, enduring memory of my dad was his penchant for corralling me or one of my siblings into bringing his empty bowl of ice cream (often coffee-flavored) from the living room into the kitchen.

This would come after he carved a half-gallon of ice cream with a big knife, into evenly distributed slices–a scene that we re-enacted, to my delight, in 2001 (see photo).

Starting in the 1980s, as one of us kids would rise to bring our own bowl to the dishwasher or sink, Dad would say, “While you’re up, bring my bowl, too.”

It was an eminently efficient directive. Other than the occasional backtracking of a few steps to retrieve his bowl, he really wasn’t putting us to any extra work.

The same efficiency ought to come into play as you approach PR. What can you do to parlay what you’ve already done and create additional exposure?

An example from the past week: I wrote a biography on Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gloor Realty agent Monica Davidson Klinke. In short order, it was up on the BHG/Gloor Realty website.

So, “while it was up,” to paraphrase Dad, it was then a simple matter of making some tweaks and turning it into a profile feature that is now posted on the Oak Park page of Triblocal.com.

Over time, Monica’s bio at the BHG/Gloor Realty website will get plenty of visits. But in the short term, the Triblocal placement will do much more to heighten awareness of her, and the firm’s, work.

I’d even be willing to bet a pint of ice cream on it.