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The skinny on pitching over the phone

If you are going to pitch to a reporter over the phone, you need to know how. The following are some of the key things to pitching over the phone:

1. Keep it brief and to the point. Reporters do not have time to chat, so saying "Hi, how are you?", while polite will not get you anywhere with the reporter. Instead say, "I am a (fill in the blank) expert, and I wanted to offer (blank) to you."

2. Never use the word publicity. No one will give you a lot of coverage if you say you think you deserve publicity or that you have been working hard. Instead you need to say why you are worth covering.

3. Be prepared. You should never call up a reporter with a pitch without preparing exactly what you are going to say first. Sit down, write it out, reread it, etc.

4. You need to have more to offer. You are going to craft your 30 second pitch before you ever get on the phone, but if after you do, the reporter comes back to you and says, "Ok, that sounds interesting, what else can you tell me?" If you do not have something prepared you could blow it. So, for example, you can say, well I have contact information for one of my customers and what they have to say will tie in nicely with the story. I have this and that statistic. I have photos of this, or some other visual.

5. Give information in small pieces to keep them interested. Offer one thing, then the next, then as they keep biting, keep offering, but do it slow. If they are interested, they will tell you. If they tell you, then keep on giving. If they do not ask for more, you do not want to brand yourself as a pest, so stop.

6. Do not try and give a reporter all of your information over the phone, even if it only takes five minutes. Reporters do not have that much time. So, do not push it.

7. If you get a voicemail, it has to be even briefer. Just because they are not there to tell you they are busy does not mean you should ramble. They will delete your message without listening if it goes too long. So, leave your name, then number, and spend about 5 seconds telling them your story idea. Then just leave it at that. If they're interested, they will call you back.

8. Stick to your guns. One of the problems with phone pitching is that if the reporter that answers the phone is grump because they are busy, you may become easily intimidated. Don't. If you can act with class and respond to a gruff reply with a smile and a chipper response, you are more likely to be listened to. So, hone your telephone skills, a reporter will consider you a better news source if you do not get taken out by a little yelling, grumpiness, etc.

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