For new PR professionals, pitching can be nerve-wracking and
nausea-inducing – without sounding too dramatic. The thought of selling a story
to an editor who may be stressed, extremely limited on time and over-worked can be
intimidating and seem almost impossible. The good news is, it’s not!
So, before you dread that next pitch, here are a few tips to
limit the nerves and be successful:
Prepare – but not too much – Yes, being prepared
(I.e., having your talking points at hand and key selling points, and even a
brief Q&A sheet) is necessary. But I find that having a script as your
guideline for the conversation doesn’t work. Know your client/product/service
and be prepared to answer questions related to your pitch, and also questions
from left field related to a recent crisis/media frenzy.
Be short & sweet – The person you’re calling is
probably swamped, and you may be their 50th pitch/follow-up call of the day.
It’s important to get straight to the point with the intent of your call. (that
means refrain from “how’s the weather in your area” questions).
Beware of putting your foot in your mouth – Nowadays
getting an editor to actually answer your call (versus getting their voicemail)
may catch you off guard. Now imagine getting someone live on the phone AND
they’ve expressed interest in your pitch – this can cause initial shock. Remain
calm and stay focused on your messaging. Don’t allow excitement/nervousness to
cloud your judgment of answering questions appropriately or
revealing information that’s top secret.
Relax! – Often, PR professionals forget that the
person they’re calling is human just as they are. If you’re not nervous
talking to a fellow co-worker or your boss, why be nervous now?
Be prepared for “no thanks” – Sometimes, despite you
pitching a topic well within an editor’s focus/interest, they still may be
uninterested. In this case, it’s appropriate to ask if his/her colleague covers
this topic. If not, thank them for their time and move on to your next efforts.
See, pitching isn’t THAT bad – is it? Good luck!