The Art Of Persuasive Pitching
Media placement is an art. Practicing it often requires as much attention to approach and style as it does to the focus of your story. While it's important to know how to use creative formatting techniques that can enhance editorial reception to a story (see article, "Using Publicity As A Creative Marketing Tool") publicists can benefit from mastering some useful tips prior to approaching, by e-mail, snail mail or phone, the keepers of the media gate.Some Basic Assumptions:
* Always tell the truth. Make sure your product or service does what it says it does and your information is accurate. If a question is put to you that you do not have an answer for, indicate to the reporter you'll get back with the information. If you don't, the info will come from someone else--and not necessarily from a source that will help your organization. Never "imagine" or "fudge" an answer. Remember, candor equals credibility. If your organization has taken an action that has reaped negative consequences, counsel your client to admit the mistake (unless the client is constrained from doing so by legal counsel). Negativity can also be mitigated if you can anticipate a reporter's tough question, and frame an answer that puts the action into historical perspective; or by developing a positioning statement that lessens the harshness implied in the question. (For example, when a poisonous substance infiltrated Tylenol bottles, the company issued the statement that "we are victims too").
* Know your outlet before you call. Have you read the magazine or newspaper in advance? Have you watched the tv program? Have you listened to the radio show? With print media, do you know the specific beat of the editor or reporter you intend to make contact with? Have you read his/her stories? It's fine to cold call but don't cold call blindly (unless there really is vagueness about that person's turf).
* Attitude. There are some p.r. people whose emotional lives seem to count on an editor's acceptance; and who feel like failures when the editor says "no." "Unattachment" is the best attitude. "Unattachment" doesn't mean "detachment" or "apathy." It means coming from a centered place, with self-confidence in yourself and your ability to communicate a story effectively ? but without being attached to the outcome. You'll find this a liberating approach, one that disallows you from becoming intimidated by an editor or producer, and one that enables you to return to the same person in the future with no regrets. When an editor perceives that you are not overly emotionally invested in a story, you may actually get a better hearing. Be warm & polite, professional...and clear. See that individual as a peer and colleague. If they're brusque in the moment, they may be having a bad day. Simply ask if there's a better time to get back to them.
* That said, believe in your story and believe in yourself. The best p.r. people see themselves as resources of news and information who work with journalists to fill valuable time & print space.
* Be more empathetic than sympathetic. Being empathetic enables you to build on what was said and resond with alternate approaches. Being sympathetic means you've probably foreclosed the possibility of an alternate approach.
* Get out of the reporter's way. When you're providing a reporter, editor or producer information where the story is time-sensitive, relay the information and get out of the way. There's a time for pitching an idea, and there's a time for simply relaying information. In the case of the latter, act like an editorial assistant. Do your job and get out. You'll earn the journalist's respect when you do so.
* Don't waste their time. When you call, communicate in sharp and crystallized fashion, the essence of the story. Keep it brief, respect deadlines and ask in advance if the moment is ok for that editor/ producer. NEVER call when you know an editor is under deadline pressure. Keep your message on-point and as brief as possible, but craft it in a compelling and creative way that will earn attention.
* Personalize. I've seen too many impersonal, photocopied pitch letters, whether via e-mail or snail mail. If you send something in advance to a call, or as a follow-up to a call, personalize. Don't be overly chummy (unless you've been on good terms with that journalist for a long time). But keep sensitive to the fact that you're a human being, and you're communicating with a human being. For e-mails, craft a provocative phrase in the "subject" area. Too many e-mail messages get unread without a compelling lead.
* Listen to the editor. It's as important to listen as it is to talk. Be sensitive to any verbal feedback, cues or clues that can assist you in fine-tuning your pitch. Keep your antennae fully extended.
* Respect the 'no' and be prepared for it. Ask quick, important questions: What is it about this story that doesn't seem right for you? Is there anyone else for whom this story might work better? Suggest how the story can be adapted to the outlet's needs. Best of all, suggest three to five different angles in advance. This reduces chances for rejection.
* But when you get your final no, let it go and release it. YOU haven't been rejected, just your story. And if you've handled the approach professionally and cordially, you'll always be able to come back with another story at another time. Regard your list of cultivated contacts as resources and investments for the long-haul, not for quick fix purposes.
* Occasionally, pass along an item of interest that lies outside your own sphere of self-interest. Be someone who's not always out to get something. Also, supply your most important contacts with your home phone number.
* Get out from behind your desk. The better you get to know the journalist on a one-to-one basis, the better your chance of a receptive ear.
* Getting beyond voice mail. Leave a succinct, provocative, targeted message. If you don't hear from them in two days, try calling early, or leave a message with an editorial assistant or colleague. Call back that other person to learn if your message was received and if there's a return message. Sometimes, you can ask the switchboard for the department that person works in, rather than a specific voice mail.
Remember that an editor or producer is buying you as well as your story. The bottom line is trust. It's up to you to earn it.
Mike Schwager is President of Worldlink Media Consultants, Inc., based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He is an accomplished veteran of media interview training, and has conducted successful trainings for scores of CEO's and other senior executives, politicians, celebrities and authors. Website: www.mediamavens.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What You Dont Know About PR Can Hurt You
And hurt bad if you are a business, non-profit or associationmanager. Especially when you rely too heavily on tactics like special events, brochures and press releases to get your money's worth.
A Natural Phenomenon? Really?
Sure. What else do you call a human discipline whose very nature is firmly rooted in the principle that people act on their own perception of the facts. Then goes on to create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization?
Take the High Ground With Quality PR
Quality public relations does something positive for business, non-profit and association managers about the behaviors of the key external "publics" that most affect their operations. In other words, it alters individual perception that leads to changed behaviors among theirreally important outside audiences.
Media Training: When Reporters Bully You
Television Reporters - Questions to Ask Before Agreeing to an Interview
Prior to a TV interview it is guaranteed the journalist involved will spend time preparing, writing down questions or goals for the interview either quickly or more in-depth as well as conducting some background research. As the interview subject it is important to undergo a similar preparation process to make the most out of your media opportunity.By asking your own question you are able to perform at your best and be prepared for the interview.
I Cant Afford A PR/Publicity Campaign -- Can I?
It's a phrase I hear over and over again from many entrepreneurs, small businesses owners and inventors: "I'd love to hire someone to launch our publicity campaign professionally, but we can't afford it, so I'm just going to have to do it on my own."
Boost Your Business by Partnering with a Non Profit Organization
Is your business looking for new and creative ways to gain publicity and build your customer base? Partnering with non profit organizations may benefit your business in many ways.
Business Gifts for Your Clients and Employees
Tis' the season for business and corporate gift-giving! Ifyou believe in the law of reciprocity, and if your businessis the least bit successful you must; you know that givingback is not only the right thing to do, but it's very smartbusiness as well. Let's look at some of the benefits andmechanics of Christmas and holiday gift-giving.
Press Release Preparation
Small Business Owners should send press releases out at least once a month to local newspapers, cable TV, local magazines and radio stations. You will be surprised how often they get published or air time. After doing this a while you can figure out what types of news get the best results. Some typical and simple press releases can be new employee hirees, new accounts with large local corporations or non-profit endeavors you are assisting with.
Financial Planners Get Free Publicity With Email
In previous articles for marketing-minded financial planners, I've discussed what to say to a reporter over the telephone.
How to Write Press Releases That Work And Get Free Publicity
One study found that as many as 90% of the stories you read every day in the newspaper came about because someone sent a press release. Why aren't some of those stories about you?
How do press releases or interest stories have an effect on meeting new potential clients?
Public Relations Primer, Part I: Packaging Your Story for the Media
Imagine you're in the breakfast cereal business. You make the best corn flakes. So do you just back a truck-load of them up to every supermarket, then wait for the customers to buy?
Would you like to be the next Dr. Phil, Suze Orman or Guy Kawasaki?
Business Growth for Financial Planners in Five Easy Steps
Attracting new business: sometimes it happens by luck, sometimes by referral. Trouble is, "sometimes" just isn't often enough.
Permanent Press: Using Press Releases to Keep Your Company in the News
When is your best advertisement not an advertisement? When it's a press release.
PR Works! 15 Ways To Make Your Press Release Stand Out From the Crowd
Do editors of newspapers, magazines and online news sites really use press releases? Too right they do. In fact, the press release is one of the most effective forms of publicity. But many businesses, both online and off, underestimate the power the press has to promote their business and get their product or service noticed by potential customers.
PR: Whats the Point?
Here's the point: people act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.
Public Relations & Your Small Business
The practice of public relations is often misunderstood, thus overlooked by small business owners. There is an assumption among small businesses that PR exists only to serve corporate giants who are looking to dodge impending negative fall out of their reputation, following a catastrophic blunder on the part of their company. While public relations is the key to maintaining a company's image and reputation, the bulk of work in this industry is dedicated to facilitating success rather than evading disaster. And now more than ever, a growing number of small businesses are seeing the benefits of well-run PR in the success of their overall marketing plan.
Making Press Releases Work - Creating News Where None Existed
Aren't you tired of hearing how extremely easy it is to get free publicity? Have you tried the suggestions that most public relations "gurus" give you? The hard, cold truth of the matter is that you cannot write a press release about any old aspect of your business and have it end up on the home page of the Fortune Small Business Web site. It just doesn't work that way. So how does it work, and what do you do if you need publicity but have nothing "newsworthy" to share?
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|