A community event, a new product launch, an important official coming or going from a position of power—these are just a few examples of news your organization may want to share on a large scale.
You’re ready for these moments with processes that have become all too familiar. You craft the perfect pitch, put pen to paper, and the words flow out in just the right formulaic manner. Press release? You’ve got this. Media advisory? Piece of cake.
But then you have to pick up the phone and make that ever-important call that can make or break your company’s chance at coverage.
For some this may seem like no big deal, but for the one-third to one-half of the population considered more introspective, this assignment can be enough to bring out a sense of dread as visions of fumbled words and forgotten details flood your mind.
Your heart begins to race.
Fortunately, this task can be made easier if you just take a few minutes to play to your strengths—preparation and pen-to-paper writing—to help you verbalize thoughtfully and pitch perfectly.
Know Your Audience: Research Reporters and Outlets
Take a few minutes to pull together a spreadsheet with all of the important publication details, or have your media list handy and open for quick reference while on the phone. This may include:
- Publication name.
- Contact name.
- Contact title.
- Contact beat or related coverage.
- Contact phone number.
- Contact email address.
- Publication and/or contact fax number.
Know which reporter you’ll be pitching and scan some of their most recent work. Take a look at the publication’s articles as a whole. Which angle will resonate most and give you the greatest chance at coverage?
Research and preparation are important for all media relations calls, and will help you feel more at ease when you pick up the phone.
Outline Your Introduction: Start Your Pitch with a Script
With these details at hand, draft a friendly introduction that explains who you are, who you represent, and why you’re making the call. Ask for the journalist’s preferred method of contact (email or fax) for supporting materials.
Have this script open and in front of you when you call, and practice a few times beforehand until it sounds natural. This will allow you to read your pitch, ensuring you do not miss any important details, stutter or stammer.
Should you fall victim to your thoughts moving faster than your words, having this document to reference can steer you back to sounding coherent, collected and prepared.
As you prepare your pitch script, consider what else the publication may need or want to know, what the person on the other end of the line may ask you, and what questions you’ll be asking the reporter.
Anticipate the questions they’ll ask and the answers they’ll provide, and note what you would say in response to each to round out the body of your script.
Trust Your Instincts: Be Human
As you prepare, don’t forget to keep your tone somewhat conversational! While the process itself can seem highly professional and proper, at the end of the day those that excel at media relations are those that excel at relationship building.
Begin with a friendly hello, good morning or afternoon, and take a moment to ask the person on the other end of the line how they are.
You would be surprised at the subtle, but impactful, shift in tone that can occur when the message received is more personalized and less strictly business.
What helps you prepare the perfect pitch? Share your advice in the comment section below.