By Booth Media Group
If you’ve been in PR for more than five minutes, you know voicemail is as ubiquitous as coffee in this field. Even if you do a fair amount of your pitching and follow up by email, being able to leave effective voicemails is an essential skill.
There is a lot of talk out there about the “Elevator Pitch,” the quick version of your message that can be delivered in the time it takes an elevator to reach its destination. This is a valuable exercise not only for job or investment seekers, but also for PR professionals in search of a favorable media contact. When you’ve been calling all day, each voicemail, each interaction, is a priceless possibility – so that message needs to have oomph, elegance, and a bit of conviction.
To have any hope of convincing your listener, you must be believable and concise. Know your point: What is the point of your call? To get an interview or review. What is the point of your client’s message? That is the hard part: to become an expert on someone else’s book or endeavor so that you can sound like it is your own. Studying the material is of course important, but so is practicing your “elevator pitch.” Be able to tell whoever answers the phone exactly what you want and why they need to say yes. If they can’t tell what the heart of your message is within 30 seconds, you’re saying too much. Trim it down so it’s blindingly obvious to anyone listening.
If you are having trouble with this, grab a friend or a tape recorder and practice your pitch until you can say the whole thing in 30-45 seconds with all relevant details: Who, What, Why, and How to book an interview. If your media contact wants to know more, be ready to answer questions and describe in greater detail why your client is a great fit for the show, newspaper, or other platform. But you’ll only get that opportunity if you start off with confidence and clarity.
We recommend taking a deep breath as the person on the other end says, “hello,” and smiling while you introduce yourself. While quickly and clearly pitching your client, keep smiling, and remember to be pleasant and helpful, not pushy or demanding. It’s important not to sound like you’re rehearsing a speech that’s been given a hundred times before, so keeping just a few bullet points of your topics and themes in front of you on a post-it note will help you sound conversational and casual. Sounding like a human being and not like a recording can go a long way to keeping the interest of your listener. Be a human!
A great, short, and interesting pitch can be the difference between yet another nonresponsive contact, and a producer or editor who becomes a valuable resource. Get cracking on practicing!