A Ringing Endorsement for the Telephone

Posted by on November 3rd, 2015

Before joining KCSA a little less than one year ago, the majority of my pitches were to print reporters. At KCSA, however, I spend a lot of time pitching TV producers—which means I’ve spent a lot of time developing new relationships and approaches in order to help clients get on TV. It’s one thing to reach out to a print media contact with whom you have already developed a relationship, but it’s something very different to get the right kind of response from a new contact in an entirely different medium. One thing I have noticed time and again is that in order to make and keep these relationships, you’re going to have to make phone calls—and a LOT of them! In the short time I’ve been pitching producers, I have realized that the phone is one of the most important tools you can have. My good old-fashioned office phone has always been one of the most important keys to my success, especially when pitching TV producers.

Due to my persistence, good phone etiquette, and of course, by offering valuable guests, I have been able to secure several really great segments for a number of my clients. One recent Bloomberg segment can be seen here. Below are just a few points I have learned while pitching via phone:

– When pitching TV producers, know the right time to call based on what time their show is on: don’t call right before they are about to go on air, or right after they finish. I keep a list of producers and their schedules so I know when I should (and shouldn’t!) try to reach specific producers.
Always ask if it’s a good time to chat. You want to be respectful of a producer’s time. If they don’t have time to talk, set a time for a callback if you can.
Get to the point immediately. Since your time is limited, you want to catch their attention with the most interesting points about why the producer and their viewers should care. Know these key points backwards and forwards, and be ready for any counter to your pitch.
Be conversational. It shouldn’t sound like you’re reading a script. Practice your pitch a few times before you make the first call or write bulleted points to refer to—but make sure you don’t sound like a robot when you speak.
Be prepared. Make sure to have all relevant notes and information readily available. You don’t want to get caught off guard with a question that you should know the answer to.
Ask to help. If they are not interested in your particular pitch, ask what they are working on to see if your other clients may be appropriate guests. They will appreciate the extra effort and may keep you in mind for additional segments. As an example, not long ago I was talking to a producer at Reuters about a client. She wasn’t going to be able to use the client I had in mind, but after asking her about the stories she was working on, I was able to match her with one of our other clients for an upcoming story.
– Before hanging up, confirm the next steps. Will the producer be in touch with available dates, or do you have to get back in touch after speaking with the client? Either way, make sure you know what to expect next to keep the conversation moving.

Of course, the above tips can be applied across the board, whether to TV or to print reporters. Now all you have to do is pick up that phone and start pitching—happy dialing!