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Phone Pitch

Phone PitchCalling the media on the phone is one of the most important aspects of media outreach, but many times, it is the first thing that drops off your list when you’re busy. Think about carving out a set amount of time on a weekly basis to contact and develop relationships with media who will be able to deliver when you need to get some visibility for your programs and services.

Create and practice the pitch

In order to ensure as much success as possible for your media event, you are encouraged to create a phone pitch to keep in front of you while talking to media on the phone. Think about the event you are trying to get coverage for and create a short description of the most important points you want to convey to a journalist or reporter on the other line. If you are nervous or haven’t done much pitching before, take some time out and practice your phone pitch with a co-worker or friend. The more you say it out loud, the more comfortable you will feel when it is time to speak with the media.

Consider different angles

Make sure you have different angles to offer the journalist or reporter to whom you are pitching your event. To be safe, practice two or three different ideas that you can pitch over the phone.

Pitch the right person

Most importantly, you want to make sure that you are talking to the appropriate person. If you want a photographer to attend your event, make sure you are calling someone from the photo desk, not the technology desk. If you get in touch with someone who doesn’t cover that beat any longer, ask if they know of anyone else in the department that you could speak with about your event.

Always start off the conversation by asking if this is a good time to talk

Proceed with your pitch. Have a media advisory ready to go. Often the person you are speaking with will ask you to e-mail or fax the information to them. It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers to the questions the person on the other line may ask you. Make sure to write down the questions they ask and get a phone number and a good time for you to convey the right information, or get an e-mail address.

Keep a phone log of all your calls

Mark down what day you called and whether or not you left a message or sent information over. This will come in handy when you make your second or third round of calls.

Excerpted from the American Library Association’s A Communications Handbook for Libraries, published in Summer of 2004. To see A Communications Handbook for Libraries in full, please visit: http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/availablepiomat/online_comm_handbook.pdf.

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