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Pitching tip: talk up the talent

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how to talk to a journalist

Still a publicist's best friend. FYI kids it is a telephone.

We held a public Media Savvy 101 workshop in Melbourne this week. On the agenda was a pitching session. “Pitching” is the term given to the act of telephoning a journalist to convince them to consider your story. Each of our eight participants bravely trialled a pitch for review.

how to talk to a journalist

Pitching is a moment of truth.

One piece of feedback equally relevant to all was this: talk up the talent. By “talent” we mean prospective interviewees. Whoever might speak or appear is referred to as “talent”. It’s a silly term but that’s showbiz for ya.  

As part of any pitch you will have to describe the talent. Too often this means little more than providing a name and title but that’s not enough. Journalists want to be convinced that your talent is interesting. Make it so.

Consider how you might describe a potential blind date to your single-but-picky housemate. 

Surely you’d provide more details than name, job title and age of the prospective date. You’d do your best to persuade your housemate that this date is special – funny, caring, smart, good with kids, generous and so on. You might tell a revealing story of how the date overcame a poor start in life to build the second largest muffler and tyre balancing franchise in south east Queensland or somesuch heroic tale. You might say something along the lines of: “Don’t tell her I told you this but…” and reveal some breathtaking nugget that makes them irresistible.

Well that’s how it should be when you are describing your CEO / program manager / chair / contented client etc. Talk them up. Get to know your talent so you can pitch them with confidence. 

Remember you are not making an apointment for your boss – you are persuading a busy journalist to consider your story among hundreds of others. You’ll need to sound like you truly know why this is a story worthy of coverage.

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