I am no means a confident PR professional like my home girl Samantha Jones likes to lead on in Sex and the City. I remember the first time I had to pick up the phone to do cold calling, my hands were shaking.
I sat at my makeshift desk at my internship with a rather large real estate firm, looking at the phone that had a ridiculous amount of buttons. I had a paper list of media maybe about 15 pages deep that wasn’t local media but ones on the East coast. I had to call them up and tell them that our company had raised a fair amount of money for a charity located in the East.
I found some paper and wrote down the key points and a little bit of conversation so that if I froze up, I could refer back to it.
I took a deep breath, picked up the phone and started dialing. How frustrated yet slightly relieved was I to get nothing but voicemails. But there were the odd person who picked up.
“Yeah I got your press release. I don’t have time to talk.” SLAM!
But it gets better. I called up a fairly popular newspaper and had one of the journalists pick up.
“Hello Mr. So and So, It’s X calling from Y. Do you have a minute to talk about the release we just sent you?”
“You have 60 seconds to pitch me. Better make it good.”
…Uh..What? That completely threw me off!
I stuttered my way through my ‘pitch’ but I was pretty sure he wasn’t sold.
I’m actually quite thankful for that experience, and thankful that the Director of Communications decided to throw me to the wolves. Maybe she knew that these particular reporters would scare me straight and I would wise up to be better on my feet. Or maybe she did it so I could compare the wonderfully friendly local media we have here to them. Who knows, but it was quite the learning experience.
Almost 10 years later, I still get a little nervous when I’m cold calling and pitching to a new batch of reporters in a different field than what I’m used to. But it’s the challenge of pitching the right angle and getting to know a new person that keeps the job interesting and why I wouldn’t trade it for the world.