Calling a journalist? Avoid making crucial mistakes

The days of telephoning a reporter and cold pitching are pretty much over, but that doesn’t mean the phone isn’t still part of the process. You just have to know when to use it.

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Contrary to what many texters, chatters, tweeters, and emailers would like us to believe, reports of the demise of the phone call have been greatly exaggerated.

For PR professionals (and those who profess to be), those coveted reporters and editors we try so hard to reach might offer a lesson: It is dead. At least it is in the sense of picking up the phone, calling a reporter, and pitching away.

As someone who has been in PR for a “few” years—long enough to remember when the phone pitch really was king, before email, and way before social media—I have learned through many firsthand experiences how important it is to continually modify my approach.

If I am trying to get a reporter on the phone, I almost always begin with an email, conveniently tagged with a read receipt. If the journalist and I have a great relationship but I don’t want to include the pitch by email, I typically say I have a story idea that I think warrants consideration and then ask about talking briefly on the phone.

A great reporter here in the Washington, D.C., area is WTOP Radio’s Neal Augenstein, who is also a prolific tweeter—now well upward of 17,000 tweets. I couldn’t help but “LOL” today when I read this tweet from him, leading to the following exchange:

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