The Art of Phone Pitching

This is a guest post by Rebecca Haynes, media and marketing specialist at Vantage PR.

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This is a guest post by Rebecca Haynes, media and marketing specialist at PAN Communications.

A recent stat from Cision indicated that 95 percent of PR professionals have been abandoning picking up the phone for other methods of reaching the press. They’ve written off phone pitching because they think editors automatically equate pitches with interruptions. It’s not that all editors hate phone pitches though, it’s that they’re tired of getting bad ones.

If you can get an editor on the phone and pull off a solid pitch, your chances of getting a hit can go up significantly. Here’s why:

Phone pitching gives you the space to share your story as a whole with an editor. You only have 30 seconds, but this beats sending an email pitch that an editor simply deletes because they don’t like the subject line. Getting an editor on the phone means that you can even get live feedback on your pitch if they don’t like it. This can give you a critical second chance to re-tailor your pitch.

Lastly, email pitches can’t convey tone as well as phone pitches do. With phone pitching you can stress the excitement of your pitch. You can also use the editor’s tone to gauge their level of interest and how you should respond.

Are you convinced?

Here are a few do’s and don’ts for startups trying to make successful phone pitches.

The Do’s of Phone Pitching

Study Up

Before you even think about picking up the phone, you better know who you’re about to talk to. Ask yourself:

  • What has the editor recently written about?
  • Why would they care about your company?

Read the editor’s work. Check Twitter. Not only will you be more confident in your approach, it will help get the conversation started in a positive way. It shows the editor that you aren’t pitching in “the dark.”

Keep it short

It goes without saying. Editors and writers are busy. Deadlines and breaking stories are the norm. Be respectful of their time. Know what you plan to say and keep it to 30 seconds or less.

Keep it simple

Sometimes technology can be complex. It’s important not to use your company’s jargon words when pitching to an editor. If you keep it simple you will also find that your pitch just got shorter too. Try to just answer the pertinent questions:

  • What’s the hook/story?
  • How is this news timely?
  • Why should this editor care?

Be prepared

Yes, editors do ask questions on the phone which can mean they’re interested or at least intrigued. This is why it’s important to prepare. Besides knowing what the product or service does you should anticipate what the editor might ask and have your answers prepared.

Be yourself

No one likes talking to someone that sounds fake or overly enthusiastic. If you start talking this way to an editor they will be able to tell that you’re being disingenuous which is no way to capture their trust.

The Don’ts of Phone Pitching

Say you are “following up”

You should have already sent your targeted editors an email with your pitch but that doesn’t mean you have to reference it on the phone.

Saying that you are just following up from an email doesn’t put you in a great position. If you start fresh like you haven’t even sent them an email the door remains wide open. They might either say yes to your CTA or you might score that briefing you’ve been waiting for.

Be boring

If you are on the phone to an editor and you aren’t excited about the announcement or the new product then why would an editor be? Express to the editor what excites you the most about your new product or service. By doing that you will most likely be answering the question “Why should I care?” and that’s all the editor wants to know.

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Leave a voicemail

Never leave a voicemail. It’s disrespectful to leave a voicemail on an editor’s answering machine. Just imagine a sales person leaving you a message on your home answering machine -it just doesn’t happen.

Read your pitch

This goes back to earlier about coming off as robotic. You don’t have to memorize your pitch, just jot down a few key points and after that let your pitch flow like an actual conversation.

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Ask questions, and assess the editor’s tone. If he or she is in a rush you should get to the point as fast as possible. If the editor sounds like a Chatty Cathy then take your time and help the editor to visualize and bridge the gap between pitch and article.

Forget the Editor

If you make several calls a day you most likely talk to a lot of editors. In case you don’t have a great memory you’ll want to come up with a system to remember the folks whom you’ve already spoken to.

One great trick is to get in the habit of following that person on Twitter or LinkedIn. This way they will start showing up on your feed, you can start engaging with them and you are less likely to forget who they are.

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Rebecca Haynes is a media and marketing specialist at PAN Communications. You can find Rebecca onTwitter or LinkedIn.