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By: Valeria Sanchez
You may feel intimidated when you pitch to a journalist for the first time. We tend to think of the worst possible outcomes like, what if they don’t like my pitch? or what if they think I’m unprepared? Everyone feels nervous doing something for the first time. Last month I got the opportunity to pitch one of my client’s programs to several news stations in California. I wouldn’t say it was fantastic. I was nervous and I got sent to voicemail plenty of times. After some trial and error, here is what I learned about crafting a successful phone pitch.
Do your research beforehand
It’s helpful to ask yourself a few questions to guide you along when you research. What organization will you pitch to? Who will you talk to? What role does that person have? Why would that organization benefit from your pitch? You can outline your script and plan better if you prepare questions ahead of time.
Write a pitch script
After you have gathered all your information, write out a script preferably in bullet point form this way you can hit all of your talking points. You want to sound as natural not robotic. First, introduce yourself and then bring up background points about your organization and what product you offer. For example, “Hi my name is Valeria Sanchez, I’m calling from NSPR radio in Northern California, we are known for our various programs, Up the Road, Blue Dot and Cultivating place.
It’s good to find points you can relate to with the person you will pitch to. This will make your conversation clear and persuasive. For example, Up the Road is a travel program based in California, I leveraged this as a talking point for the stations I pitched to. If I saw a station was located in the Bay Area I would suggest they listen to an episode that took place in the Bay Area.
Keep your voicemails short
When you first start out to pitch you may get sent to voicemail. Reporters are busy people so it’s common that they will not have time for another pitch from a PR professional they aren’t familiar with. The article, 5 pointers for effective phone pitches by PR Daily, recommends that you keep the pitch short and sweet, less than under a minute if you leave a voicemail.
Do not call after hours
Schedule your calls in the morning and after lunch, so from 9- 11 a.m. and from 1- 5 p.m. Never call early mornings or after work hours.
It’s okay to feel nervous.
It’s okay to feel nervous or mess up the first few times. What helps me is to take a few deep breaths before you pitch. Also having notes in front of you may make you feel more prepared. Remember you are still learning so don’t take your mistakes too seriously but also use them to improve your skills.
“Remember you are still learning so don’t take your mistakes too seriously but also use them to improve your skills.”