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Phone Pitches Can Pay Off

More than a decade ago, Colorado ... Debra Benton gave her career a lasting boost in less than one minute. She called a famous ... and told him in one sentence what she did: teach executi

More than a decade ago, Colorado consultant Debra Benton
gave her career a lasting boost in less than one minute. She
called a famous columnist and told him in one sentence what
she did: teach executives how to have charisma. The
columnist took her number and called her back a week later
for an interview.

The day his article appeared, she received calls from Time
and Newsweek as well as from several executives who turned
into clients. Time ran its own story on her, which led to
writeups in Barron's, Financial Weekly, The New York Times,
"CBS This Morning" and "Good Morning America." Much of her
business -- and her ability to charge thousands of dollars a
day for her services -- indirectly stems from that phone
call to that columnist.

What can you learn from this?

First, she used a concise, intriguing characterization of
herself. This takes most people much more than one minute to
formulate. Unless you have an unusual job title, such as
Florida State Official Handwriting Analyst, your job title
won't perform this function. Instead you need to delve below
"stockbroker," "specialty shoe wholesaler" or "sports
trainer" to put into words the results that you produce for
some group of people. The shoe wholesaler might say, "I help
men spend a whole day on their feet in comfort."

You'll know you've done it right when people lean forward
after you reel off your sentence and ask you, "How do you do

Second, Benton did the research necessary to reach someone
who would probably respond well to her pitch. Although her
research consisted simply of taking note of the personality
and interests of the columnist, whom she regularly read
anyway, you may need a few trips to the library or the
Internet to find the right media person to call. Consider
the audience you hope to reach and what publications they
read or what programs they watch or listen to. Or consult an
up-to-date media directory in the reference department of
almost any public library.

Third, when you call, respect the other person's time.
Because media people face unforgiving, absolute deadlines,
PR pros usually start off something like this: "Hello, this
is ____. Are you on deadline or do you have a moment now?"
Tell them only as much as is necessary to pique their
interest. Don't take it personally if they appear brusque,
and never argue with someone who's given you a "no." Simply
go on to another person on your list.

Fourth, practice what you'll say when they want a full-
length interview. Decide on three major points you want to
get across and get a friend who's a Barbara Walters wannabee
to feed you relevant and off-the-wall questions. Debra
Benton got terrific results from the columnist partly
because she anticipated what he might ask and prepared
compelling examples and convincing replies.

Phone pitches shouldn't replace targeted distribution of
news releasesScience Articles, only supplement them in those rare cases
where you sense a perfect match between a media outlet and
your own specialization.

Source: Free Articles from


Marcia Yudkin is the author of the
classic guide to comprehensive PR, "6 Steps to Free
Publicity," now for sale in an updated edition at
and in bookstores everywhere. She also spills the secrets
on advanced tactics for today's publicity seekers in
"Powerful, Painless Online Publicity," available from .

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