We all see the tweets from journalists that say “Never call me” and “Any PR person that calls a journalist should be fired.”
So don’t call those journalists.
And if you want, you could throw the baby out with that bathwater and never call any journalists. That just makes it easier for people like Laura Orrico.
Laura knows that a well-researched phone call to the right person at the right outlet still works, and she trains the staff at the PR firm she runs how to do it successfully.
I know this because I was doing a pitching webinar and mentioned something about this fear of phone pitching. And a listener named Taylor Leddin piped up via the chat and said her boss helps her and her coworkers get over “phone fright” and be successful. After the webinar I had to get in touch and hear more.
Laura was very generous with her insights and even passed along the phrasing she’s used for successful phone pitches – I’m going to share that below. But, if you’re currently nervous about using the phone to pitch, the most important message here comes from Taylor. Because she used to feel just like you.
But Laura not only encouraged her, but sat down next to her and demonstrated exactly how to do it on a real pitch. Taylor was inspired to get over her nerves, and gave it a shot. The first time she wasn’t as awesome at it as Laura, but she stuck with it, and now gets more placements because of it. You can do the same.
Here’s a great example. Laura was repping an organization related to the Bill of Rights. She picked up the phone and cold called a reporter at Parade magazine and made a two-sentence pitch. The reporter explained that their deadline had passed, and Laura thanked her and was gone.
Some time later, Laura called the same reporter about a different client. Here’s what she said:
“Hi [reporter]! It’s Laura Orrico with Laura Orrico Public Relations. We spoke a few months ago about the Federal Bar Association and the Bill of Rights Anniversary? How are you? Well, this time I have something that isn’t happening for a few months, so I wanted to call as I have all of the details to give you advance notice. My client, the Federal Bar Association, is doing a pro bono veterans initiative helping vets to draft wills across the country, and I thought this would be perfect for your Veterans Day issue.”
The writer responded positively and invited Laura to email the details. Closer to the deadline, Laura called back to check and the reporter told her the story was set to run right before Veterans Day. Which it did 🙂
Best part of the story? It goes on. Laura’s team got another client featured in Parade a few months later. It all started because she was willing to pick up the phone that first time.
It’s obvious Laura does her research and only selectively calls people she knows are the right ones to approach. A couple other tips that might not be as obvious, especially if you have been doing all your pitching by email.
“Smile while you’re talking,” Laura says. “That’s so important because it affects how you sound. And don’t match their bad tone if they have one. Some people just sound moody on the phone.”
Thank you to Taylor for bringing this to my attention. And kudos to her boss Laura and the team at Laura Orrico Public Relations for doing the best they can for their clients.