Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PR Vets Should Mentor, Pitch?


AP Assistant Business Editor Joyce Greenberg offered some advice on pitching and cracking top outlets like the AP in today’s Daily ‘Dog.

Chief among them was her opinion that pitching should be left to senior not junior staffers. I agree with Joyce that it’s the responsibility of those of us with a little more life lived to mentor those just starting out. It’s up to all of us to carve out some time to share what we know. Nail the thirty second pitch long before dialing, know as much about the person you’re calling as you possibly can (without stalking) – and perhaps most importantly don’t loose yourself in your client’s story. A little confidence and a lot of basic phone etiquette can go a long way.

Good training and preparation aside, we can’t get around those first several terrifying calls. How does one fine-tune without tuning at all?

The receiver of my first phone pitch was Barb Darrow, a veteran CRN reporter now with 1105 Redmond Media Group.

Lucky for me, she looked beyond my nervous, stammering voice and was interested in the news I was trying to sell.

The most satisfying stories of which I’ve been a part all involved much behind-the-scenes collaboration and mutual respect. Those of us who like what we do, truly respect the reporters we get to work with. We care about the markets they’re writing about, and we follow their coverage like fashion junkies devour Vogue’s epic fall issue and sports junkies frenzy over…. Yeah, okay, I confess I don’t have a clue.

So I guess I’d ask seasoned journalists to look beyond stereotypes and dig deep from time to time for a moment of “new to the job” empathy. Maybe that young person on the other end is shaky not only because it’s his first big call, but because he has immense respect for your publication and your work – and who knows, underneath it all, there might be a good story just waiting to be told.

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