I’ve found that this simple script works best to land Free PR and I’ve used it since 1986:
Start with “Hi, my name is [Your Name]. Do you have a couple of minutes, I think I have a great story for you?”
The writer will say one of the following:
a) “Sure. What have you got?” – To which you say – “Well, I have this cool story about this [Your Angle]. Here are a couple of quick bullet points.” Then, like a salesperson, you ask: “What do you think?”. Continue to ask questions, and listen.
b) “Sorry. I’m on a deadline” – to which you say – “OK, I’ll call you tomorrow or would the day after be better?”
c) You also have the opportunity to ask what they’re working on and listen. When you’re trying to pitch your angle, ask them what stories they’re working on currently. Suggest helpful options for achieving their goals, and you’ll be achieving your own at the same time. Potentially suggest ways you could be an expert with comments for their current story.
As the saying goes, in sales, you have two ears and one mouth–use them in that ratio! The conversation should go something like this: you ask questions, you listen, you listen, you ask questions, you listen, and you listen some more.
And then, remember this: Don’t show up and throw up. Don’t start giving them the entire story. Instead, give them your quick little angle. It’s a seduction. Say, “What do you think?” after you’ve offered them a taste. They’ll give you their thoughts, and then you can narrow your angle a little bit from what they say, or switch to your second angle, or your third angle that fits better. If you are alert, you can turn an apprehensive writer into a zealous fan, just by listening.
Everyone asks me about email pitches. Sorry, that’s not my gig. I’m all about picking up the phone, so I’m not writing about how to email members of the media because everyone is doing that –this is like competing where there is no competitor!
There really isn’t much difference in terms of my approach for radio or blogs. In fact, in speaking with many bloggers, it’s clear they’re getting frustrated with people spamming them by email with story ideas and they’d love a phone call too.
If I have to leave voice mail, I usually leave a message like this: “Hi Susan, sorry I missed you, but I think I have a great story angle for you. I’ll give you a call tomorrow about it. If you have a chance before then, you can call me at: 604-XXX-XXXX.”
Follow-up emails are fine for thanking the writers for their time. Follow-up emails are perfect after a writer covers you, but a handwritten thank you note mailed (with a stamp) to them is far more memorable. No one sends thank you cards to just say thanks anymore – and you should—you’ll stand out. This is how you’ll land tons of Free PR.
For more information on this topic, check out: Generating Free PR.