The world of marketing and publicity used to be driven by the phone call. For many this now seems to be an antiquated approach and very “old school”. It’s true that email is effective and there are many who prefer it to any other channels of outreach — some because they would rather hide behind email than actually pick up the phone — there is still another side to this equation.
Much to the chagrin of many, there are numerous journalists, editors and producers who ignore email and will actually reward those who take the initiative to call them with their pitch. Mind you, it still has to be a great idea! I can list off at least 10 top tier media outlets where this is the case.
The point is, there is no “one way” to do things. Just because you prefer one way, e.g., using email, it doesn’t mean that’s the case for those you are trying to reach. In a world of customization, you need to have some system for cataloging this kind of information. It’s another way your publicist can be such a huge help to you. She can tell you, “You have to send an email, followed by a phone call saying you just sent an email, and you’ll be calling back.” This strategy has worked more times than I can tell you…
Let’s say you like making phone calls, or you’re willing to give it a go. There are fundamentals that are true, no matter the date on the calendar. Some things that worked in 2002 still work today.
- Go in with the proper mindset. If you’re saying to yourself, “Oh, I hate making phone calls,” or “I’m so nervous about this,” then wait until you’re in a better state of mind before you actually pick up the phone. Do something physical to get your blood pumping. Even twenty jumping jacks or a run around the block can change your physicology and mindset. Say things to yourself such as, “I can do this. It’s just a phone call. I have something important to offer this media person. It will benefit their audience and it’s important for me to share it.”
- Know exactly what you want to say and the result you want to get before the phone starts ringing. Practice pitching before calling. Keep it short. Be succinct. Know that you can do this. Know what you want. Do you want to set up an interview? Then be sure you move in that direction during the conversation. And remember, everything takes practice. Everything.
- Always have a smile on your face when you place a call because it will show up in your voice. Have a mirror next to you and see yourself smiling as you speak. Yes, it will seem weird, but a smile always comes through.
- Be authentic, enthusiastic, and friendly.
- Don’t call your media contact when he or she is on deadline. Do the research first and know when this is. For example, you don’t want to call the morning show producer just before the show goes on the air. Likewise, if there is a big breaking news story, this is not the time to call.
- Listen for the state of mind of the person. Do they sound busy and rushed? If so, ask if there is a better time for you to call back. Then, call back at that time. This lets the person know you are considerate and can be counted on to do what you say you will do.
- Don’t take rejection personally. It never is. Most of the time “no” simply means, “No, not right now.” Ask them if it’s ok for you to call back when you have another idea that might be more appropriate. And remember, the good news is that some will say “yes” to you, and that’s when it’s really fun.
- Learn the difference between persistent and pesky. There is a difference. The key is to be persistent without being obnoxious. Never be argumentative; That never works. The truth is it often takes 7 or 8 calls to finally get that booking. Don’t give up without some effort. Remember, if you give up after only 1 call, you’ll never get that relationship or that booking.
- Become a resource by finding out what else your contact is working on and trying to help. Going above and beyond even in little ways will set you apart and solidify that contact in your database.
- Resist the temptation to think all of this should magically happen overnight. It never does.
Building relationships takes some time, but it is well worth it. The phone is still an important tool in this equation. In some ways even more so because by calling you will stand out. –Particularly in world where so many just want to use email.
Oh, and by the way, are we connected via social media yet?
To your success!