May 8, 2013

Media pitching: fear not the phone!

A large part of a PR professional’s job is pitching news to the media and successfully getting coverage in targeted publications. However, editors and writers are very busy and receive a million calls a day, so it can sometimes be nerve-racking to pick up the phone to pitch a story verbally rather than by sending an email. Our best advice is to email the pitch and always follow up with a call. Yes, it takes time out of your day, but phone calls humanize and personalize your stories, so if you have a newsworthy story you believe in, get on the phone and tell the media about it.

ContentImageHandler.ashxNevertheless, editors and writers are people. Some are fun and easy to get along with, others are grumpy and impatient. Many are overworked and have little time for calls and story ideas that don’t really apply to their readers So if the calling process intimidates you, here are a few must-know, must-follow tips to keep you on the right track.

Write a script
Write down either a full script or bullet points of your pitch; do not jump on a call without planning what you’re going to say. No matter how familiar you are with the story, a script will help you stay on track and focused on the newsworthy elements.

Practice
Once you’ve created your script, read it out loud a few times to make sure it flows and feels comfortable. This will help you be more confident.

Call early in the day
Usually reporters are on a deadline in the afternoon or evening, so don’t procrastinate. Call first thing in the morning when writers have time to chat.

Keep it brief
Keep your pitch to 30 seconds or under. Writers have jobs to do, so if you can get the important points of your pitch out quickly it will be appreciated.  If the writer is interested, he/she will ask additional questions. Your pitch should get to the heart of the story quickly.

Be prepared to answer questions
Have detailed examples, statistics and/or stories to back up your pitch, and be prepared to pass along the contact information of people who can be interviewed to tell these stories.

Smile
This is the oldest sales/customer service trick in the book. If you are smiling while you are talking on the phone you sound more pleasant to the person on the other line. If your voice sounds monotone and unenthusiastic, so does your pitch. If the writer can tell that you’re not excited, why should he or she be interested in anything you have to say?

Rejection happens
Writers are going to say the word ‘no’ to you. Get used to it and pick up the phone and dial the next number. Don’t get offended, don’t analyze the reasons why, just move on and try that writer again the next time you’re pitching.

April 22, 2013

LinkedIn Recommendations for CEOs

When a CEO becomes interested in building a larger presence on LinkedIn, here are some of the suggestions we’ve provided in the past to get him or her started, organized by the amount of time and effort needed:

imagesLevel 1 (Low Participation) – Approx. 30 minutes – 1 hour a week
• Join five LinkedIn groups.  Pick five groups that are related to your company or industry, and ones you feel comfortable participating in. The second step is to make comments when the right topic is posted within those groups. We recommend checking in with the groups once a week to see if there’s a new topic of conversation you’d like to join.
• Post one link to profile wall once a week.  These links can be to anything related to the company. Whether it’s specific company news or industry news, the more you post on your profile, the more attention will be received.

Level 2 (Medium Participation) – Approx. 1 – 2 hours a week
• Create posts in two of the five groups.  Instead of making brief comments to other users’ posts, create your own posts within those groups to generate more conversations revolving around topics that relate to the company’s products, services, and industry. The company name should not be mentioned in the post so that group members do not assume it is a sales pitch.  This allows you to control the conversations, generate discussions and glean potential customer and industry leader feedback.
• Post revised version of group post to your wall.  Anything that is posted within a group should also be posted to your profile wall.

Level 3 (High Participation) – Approx. 3 – 5 hours a week
• Start new group.  Creating a new group allows you to invite customers and other contacts to join and participate. Create one company specific post a week and recruit internal marketing personnel to post industry news and other information. We would advise that the company should create a minimum of eight posts a month. Customers could also create posts sharing their experiences and feedback. The idea is to make it inviting for users that are not current customers to join. This allows you to learn more information about current customers and potential customers and could also lead to great case study material.
• Post revised version your group posts to wall.  This is the same principle as Level 2 except there will be multiple group posts.
• Thought leadership responses to five groups.  Pick three main conversations from the original five groups and write thought leadership-inspired responses. Rather than short comments to certain posts, these responses would be drafted ahead of time and could even be edited and repurposed to fit different groups or shortened to be posted on the wall. These type of thought leadership responses, along with many of the other listed recommendations, will drive more users to not only connect and follow you but also the company brand.