How do you get over phone fright?

“How do you get over your fear of the phone?”

That was a great question that came in during my last Inner Circle webinar.

I was interviewing the best media pitching pro I know, Dan Beeson, about some of the recent top- tier media placements he had landed for Aflac.

Dan was walking us through how to make a quick connection on the phone, acknowledging that most journalists have their guard up, even if you’re lucky enough to have them answer.

Then that question came in, related more to mindset than tactics. And my other guest stepped up.

Jon Sullivan is senior PR manager at Aflac and Dan’s client. He’s also no pitching slouch himself, having reeled in Fortune and USA Today within two weeks of the webinar. And he unfurled this wisdom:

Perhaps I’m kidding myself with it, but I look it at it and say, ‘It’s not a one-way deal here, I’m about to make this person’s life a little easier by handing him a story that he didn’t have two minutes ago.’ And that’s what they do, they look for stories. Well, I’m looking to place stories. So whether it’s a completely equal playing field, I’ll let others decide. But that’s how I get myself in the frame of mind that gets over any kind of phone fright.

Here are my thoughts on implementing Jon’s great recommendation:

Qualifier #1: You’ve probably already recognized a really important part of that mindset. You have to really believe in the story angle you’re proposing. And you need to have done your homework to be sure that it’s relevant to this particular journalist. But if you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time, those should be givens by now.

Qualifier #2: Yes, just adopting this mindset doesn’t mean every reporter is going to cover your stories. But you’ll certainly be more convincing than if you come across as intimidated or needy. Or if you never pick up the phone at all.

Qualifier #3: If you don’t work for a huge name like Aflac, then yes, top-tier journalists are going to need to hear something pretty spectacular from you. Home run pitches can and do come from smaller organizations. But even if you don’t have the goods yet for top-tier, find the outlets that are focused on the same subject matter your key audiences are. That’s where the journalists work who are actively looking for what you have to offer.

Then you’ll have your mind right to ditch phone fright.

This article was originally published on June 4, 2015

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