A PR secret from the White House press team

On the training I delivered Tuesday for my Inner Circle, I shared the experience of a junior DC agency staffer who suffered from the “I feel like a pest” mindset while following up with her media pitches.

She was bothered with the idea that she was “annoying” journalists and others she was reaching out to.

And then she got to watch a recent hire from the White House press team in action.

She eavesdropped on the vet’s media calls, and noticed that even though she was calling mostly new reporters who didn’t know where she’d worked previously, she spoke with confidence, like she had something she knew they would want and was letting them in on it.

The junior pro adopted that approach  even though it didn’t come naturally to her. And the dynamic of her media pitches and calls changed immediately.

She was pitching the same issues to the same media, and getting better results, all because she learned to accept that she had something that journalists wanted.

[Many thanks to Kristina Ray for allowing me to share her story.]

“Pest” is a word I hear often when PR pros confess their candid feelings.

“I feel like a salesperson regularly pestering journalists,” one told me.

If this is how you feel too, then THIS is the most important thing you can change starting NOW.

Because this pest affliction is a learned behavior. It has nothing to do with the truth.

What is the truth?

It’s that journalists have the platform to magnify a message, but YOU have the gold they use to create that message.

The challenge is to understand and believe this.

“Not that simple, Michael . . .,” you’re thinking. And I used to agree – I focused so hard on teaching you specific techniques that make boring information newsworthy that I ignored the real root of the “pest” problem.

Otherwise great PR pros still hold back in their media pitches and worry that they’re annoying their contacts, even when they acknowledge they have a great story. I’ve had countless training clients admit this, even when a top journalist has already responded with interest!

So the first step really is to change your mindset.

Maybe you’re still concerned that, despite your best attitude, you KNOW that this whacked-out thing people expect you to pitch isn’t what any journalist would want. Well, then you don’t have a pitching problem. You have a story development problem.

And your mindset adjustment fixes that, too.

Because now you have the resolve and initiative to set up a process to uncover better raw materials that make better stories. And you dig deeper into your creativity treasure chest to uncover new and better ways to frame what would be otherwise stale media pitches.

So let me ask you, “Are you a pest?”

As it turns out, the answer is completely under your control.

This article was originally published on October 13, 2016

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