PR Essentials: Telephone Etiquette!
PR may have made its way to social and digital media, but one of the most important tools to garner publicity is still the good ole’ telephone. We send out press releases when we have news, we email our contacts, but most of our stories are confirmed over a phone conversation with the journalist. Though conversing over the phone plays a key role in enhancing communication with the other person, the importance of telephone etiquette is often overlooked. So before you pick up that phone to call an editor or a media contact, you may want to read the following tips:
Ready first, then get set!
Prepare yourself before you decide to dial that number. By this I mean, be ready with your pitch. Ask yourself – what are you pitching for and why? Why should the journalist give you the time of day? What you say should instantly interest the journalist, so how you start the conversation is important. It’s crucial to have some newsworthy information to talk about. If you’re nervous about talking to journalists, you’ll do better by practising by yourself or with a friend before hitting that dial. Remember those days in school when we had poetry recitals and we spent hours practising to deliver the perfect pitch right? Well, that’s how you go about it. Besides practising what you’re going to say, work towards getting your message across in a clear professional and confident tone. Speaking with enthusiasm adds vivacity to your voice.
Keep the ball rolling!
Giving them enough information when speaking gets your pitch heard. By being quick and concise in your delivery, you up your chances. Always remember, every word you say counts!
Timeliness is vital
Never call an editor when they have a deadline. Avoid Mondays and early mornings. Usually, newspapers have deadlines in the afternoon, and someone who works for a magazine may have a deadline that extends for days. Instead of pondering over when is the best time to call, a better alternative is to introduce yourself and ask “Is this a good time for you? Or if they are too busy and stop after listening to a few lines of your pitch, ask them when you should call them back and call back on time!
Courtesy matters, a lot.
It’s important to be courteous on the phone, no matter who you’re talking to. Do respect the time the editor is giving you, and give full attention to the call. Turn off all other notifications making no room for distractions. You may want to turn off your mobile phone as well. Even the slightest attention lapse will be recognized in your voice when you converse. Speak politely and don’t interrupt when the other party is talking.
Make it clear
Ok, so the editor has listened to your pitch. What next? Do you want them to cover an event? Send a reporter or interviewer over? Make it clear as to what you want. Another important thing to take note is to make sure they know how to contact you if they have any questions. And if you ever think they’ll hunt you down, they won’t, simply because there is a lot of competition for press coverage, so make sure you get back to them asap!
Be persistent, not a pest
It’s good to call back and follow-up on agreements, but make sure you don’t overdo it. If you have already emailed them a press release, give them time to get back, instead of pestering them with phone calls within a week. If you don’t receive a response after a few calls, just let it be. If a journalist or editor is interested in your story, they will definitely respond to your call, so don’t waste time and energy on people who don’t bother.
Finally, a formula that always works, talk to your journalist the way you want them to talk to you. Visualize yourself in their position and the way you would want to be treated. The journalist can only interpret your body language from your tone of voice and speaking skills. A pleasant and cheerful speaker will always have his/her way through getting things done successfully.
Developing good phone etiquette will support your PR efforts to establish a good rapport with your journalist. Being a basic part of customer service, this tool should never be underestimated.