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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Some Recent `Tips of the Inside Edge’

Since early February, I have been posting a daily “Tip of the Inside Edge” at the Inside Edge PR Fan Page on Facebook.

(To visit the page, type “Inside Edge PR” in the Facebook search box.)

Here is the collection of tips from the past week:

Pick up the darn phone once in awhile. E-mail is a great complementary avenue, but there’s nothing like actually speaking with another human being to build stronger connection and understanding.

Show, Don’t Just Tell. In any endeavor, when meeting with prospective clients, find ways to show your value–and not merely talk about it.

The quality and quantity of follow-up questions help set apart outstanding connectors from ineffective or even average connectors.

When you hear “show up early, stay late” is the key to success, it might seem like a ton of extraordinary effort. Often, though, it just means five minutes on either side.

Write a sincere hand-written thank you note some time before you die. It’ll shock the recipient. And leave a positive impression.

For other suggestions, visit my Recommended Links page at InsideEdgePR.com.

Pigs Get Fat, Hogs Get Slaughtered, PR-Style

“Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.”

In other words, don’t get too greedy.

From the standpoint of creating something that is a legitimate, well-rounded piece of news, rather than a wholly self-serving PR piece that may turn off the media, the pigs/hogs axiom certainly applies.

There simply are times when it’s best to share the spotlight rather than try to hog all of it. A current example illustrating that truth is a recently issued Inside Edge PR news release on an event called “Pancakes for Soldiers.”

I learned of it from Pat Liss, the concierge at Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Burr Ridge. You can read the release at Triblocal.com here.

Here is a photo gallery that I assembled, with great support from organizer Tina Vandenbosch of Willowbrook.

Over the last three years, Pat has been a great source of excellent story ideas, often human-interest in nature.

And in this case, Pat was also part of the story, as it turns out. Of course, because Five Seaasons is a client–and because it played a key role in supporting the cause–the release included prominent mention of the club.

But it’s not at the exclusion of noting others’ support, from a local Starbucks to another company that donated a propane griddle.

PR Tips: How to Build Rapport With Reporters

Among many other topics during last week’s workshop, “PR Secrets From a Media Insider,” one was on how to develop rapport with members of the media.

In a nutshell, here are some basic steps:

1. Pay attention to the reporter’s prior work.
2. Pay a (sincere) compliment.
3. Respectfully challenge a reporter’s work.
4. Offer a story suggestion that does not benefit you in the least.

The brief video below, from the PR Secrets workshop at the Carleton Hotel in Oak Park, Ill., touches on these points:

On August 12: PR Secrets From a Media Insider

Where will you be four weeks from Wednesday, on the evening of August 12th?

If you are anywhere near Oak Park–and are in the market for immediately useful and practical tools to improve your public-relations efforts–then you should consider attending PR Secrets From a Media Insider.

Full disclosure: I am a biased source, since I am the one leading the session from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Carleton Hotel just south of downtown Oak Park.

Attendees will receive a workbook loaded with media-insider tips and principles that work time and again, largely because having been in the media for more than 20 years, I know just what reporters, editors, producers and other decision-makers need.

Hint: at the top of the list is a four-letter word that begins with “n,” ends with “s,” and has “ew” in the middle.

Of course, don’t be so naive as to take some self-serving publicist’s word for his purported ability to match individuals and organizations with an assortment of media outlets.

Instead, be sure to watch video clips of satisfied Inside Edge PR clients and read their testimonials to see if he has anything to back up all the talk.

Then–and only then–should you call me at 708-860-1380 or send an e-mail to reserve your space.