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The Phone and PR Practitioners in an Era of Social Media

Yes, PR professionals have gone digital and social media is an important tool in “getting the word” out. But even in today’s digital world, many stories get “ink” because a phone call was made and the deal was sealed.

Pitching by phone to get a journalist or producer interested in a story takes preparation. Here are a few tips from AJGpr for the pitch call made perfect:

1. Do your homework – is your pitch newsworthy? Is it relevant to the person your pitching? Can you deliver the message succinctly? If not, practice until it is tight – journalist don’t have time to listen to long introductions. Be enthusiastic but business-like in your tone.

2. Make sure you are calling when a reporter, editor, producer is NOT on deadline.  How do you know?  You don’t always – but you can assume that newspapers are on deadline in the afternoon, weeklies that come out on Mondays have Thursday/Friday deadlines, and for monthly publications deadlines can stretch over several days. Most PR professionals have access to Vocus and Cision which lists how and when media contacts like to be pitched.  Some say NO CALLS – so respect that.  When you do connect, always be polite, introduce yourself, and ask, “Is this a good time?” If the answer is yes – get to pitch quickly and complete in 2-3 sentences.  If the answer is no, find out when would be a good time to call back.

3. Be courteous. It counts to use your best manners – “please’s” and “thank you’s.” Don’t multi-task – be focused on your listener.

4. Be clear about the outcome you want from the journalist, producer.  Do you want to book your client on a TV segment? Do you want to set up a phone interview, a face-to-face interview? Do you want them to attend an event? Send a reporter? Be sure to conclude the call with next steps, including how best to contact you.

5. Be persistent. But don’t be a pest. If you have agreed on a phone follow-up, stick with the plan. If your call is unanswered after 2 or 3 attempts to reconnect – let it go.

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