With the New Year, the Kaizen PR team has recently been A/B testing different approaches to outreach. From calling journalists to tweeting follow-ups, it’s been a nerve-racking yet insightful start.
As previously mentioned in my other blog posts, outreach and digital PR is constantly evolving and reshaping – it won’t ever be a precise science, however, it’s never a bad tactic to learn each process and what works best for you.
A pitching style that’s constantly up for debate and sparked my interest (and fear) was phone pitching, due to the possibility of upfront rejection and absolute stage fright. However, the last few months, I’ve managed to find a process that works best for me while still managing to utilise all the channels available and of course, keeping my contacts happy.
THE FACTS BEHIND THE FEAR:
It was recently reported in 2017 Cision State of the Media Report that 12% of journalists rely more in the last year on PR professionals than they did before. While this number is not too extreme, it was also reported that 63% of journalist’s reliance had not changed at all during the last year and that only 5% mentioned that they didn’t work at all with PR professionals.
This provides reassurance that the majority of journalists are always open to pitches and hearing new stories within reason, for example, if it’s within their niche.
Now while the report also stated that email pitches were the most successful and desired form of contact, and yes, I do agree with this from time to time, I do believe that calling a journalist can also help if the following criteria apply:
Bear in mind, though, that it is also important to understand that the time of day that you call can hinder their response or even change the mood – stay away from first thing Monday, as well as just after lunch, as this is when most meetings and slow starts occur.
BASICS TO PHONE PITCHING:
In securing your relationships and keeping your contacts happy, make sure that full preparation and homework has been followed through. Here are just a few ways you can be fully prepared:
1. Find the correct journalist and publications that would be interested in your content. Also, ensure you have read a few of their recent articles to make sure you understand the angle they usually place emphasis on.
– This will definitely deter the journalist from feeling annoyed or rushed if it is potentially a strong story for their publication (their interest is key).
2. Flesh out different angles as well as some stand-by angles that could possibly help you during your call pitching.
3. Go through the piece and write out a few potential questions you might initially have. When breaking down the data and finding the answers, you will be able to establish a list of backup information that might help on the call.
4. If following up, never mention that you’re following up. Rather take the approach of explaining the story and add new elements to it that they may not have heard of before. You will 100% lose the journalist’s attention with the information they’ve already seen or heard. A great opening gambit could be ‘I wondered if there was any more information I could offer to make this more of a story for you?’ Never ask ‘have you seen my press release?’
While every PR or journalist will be different and have their own preferences, understanding your content and contacts will never let you down in outreach. One of the biggest takeaways from my experiences over the last few weeks would definitely take time to follow these steps and familiarise yourself with your contacts, and never fear giving a different approach a try!
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Robin L. Newnham
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