The Phone Pitch

July 2004
by David Cole

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The ideal procedure for pitching a story to the media is usually summed up as: phone, mail, phone. That is, phone first to make an initial contact or determine who’s the right person to receive your materials, and, if it’s appropriate, to give a quick pitch. Second, mail your press materials. Finally, follow up with a phone call to confirm receipt and give your pitch for a booking or article.

Publicists rarely have time for all these stages. When time is limited, they generally omit the first call and rely on the accuracy of their list and the power of their press materials to make a strong first impression. If they are dealing with a breaking story and snail mail will miss the window of opportunity, they might call, fax, or e-mail.

Such tactics should not be abused, however. The first rule in doing phone work with media people is to respect their time. Like everyone else in the modern world, reporters, editors, and producers are being asked to do too much in too little time. In addition, they are constantly dealing with deadlines that can’t be fudged. If they are preparing for a show that goes on in an hour or completing an article that goes to press before lunch, they don’t want to talk, and they will resent your intrusion. So, when calling, be sure to ask if this is a good time to talk. Then be prepared to make your pitch clearly and succinctly.

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