Phone phobia

I’ve just read a PR Week article which looks at phone pitching to journalists, and it seems that things are getting worse in the media relations business. I’ve run my own company for five years now, but before I left my last agency I had noticed that junior staff were becoming increasingly reluctant to pick up the phone.

Of course, I’m such an old lady that I can remember PR before email – when you used to hand staple press releases that were destined for the snail mail. That also meant I spent most of my day on the phone, pitching to journalists and discussing ideas with them.

In the PR Week article, communications skills coach Nick Fitzherbert agrees that this problem is partly generational. He says: “Younger people seem to be developing a fear of the phone – they prefer to stay behind the protective barrier offered by email and text.”

The article then goes on to say that if someone does actually pick up the phone, they are often ill prepared, calling at the wrong time and unable to answer questions. If you aren’t prepared, then you can’t be confident and enthusiastic, and that will come across to the journalist at the end of the phone.

I fully admit, that most of my work is now done on email, but the pitches I make are to journalists that I’ve known for years. If it’s someone that I don’t know, I usually call first to chat the idea through, and hopefully inspire them!

The sheer volume of emails that journalists receive means they don’t read all of them. It’s therefore crucially important to make the email subject very clear i.e. what it’s about and why it could help them. Cut out the waffle and get straight to the point – they won’t read pages of drivel, an email needs to create interest, not deliver War and Peace! Treat your email like you would a well-crafted, succinct phone pitch where you have 30 seconds or less to get a positive reaction.

Next time you’re just about to press the ‘send’ button, why don’t you consider picking up the phone instead?

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