Often, when pitching to the media, you’re faced with going in knowing that your audience has some sort of benefit from the story or information you’ve got to share. You’ve begun with a list of potential contacts knowing that their outlet and previous work are aligned with the goal you’ve set for your client. It could go either way from there.
Aside from the PR work, my husband and I own a small café. We’re inundated with pitches from cup vendors, pastry bakers and window washers. However, in the last few months we were getting phone calls from a company that said they had nothing to sell, but indeed, wanted to sell us on their app. Even after telling them that we weren’t interested in their business and that we wouldn’t need to speak to them any further we continued to get call after call from new sales reps every few days. Clearly these guys would not take “no” for an answer.
Finally, after around eight months of calling, they finally got to us and we allowed them to tell us about their product and what it had to offer. Their perseverance paid off and a call with online screen sharing was scheduled!
On a sunny Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend we received a call from the rep who was chipper and glad that we were able to schedule the time to go through their app. We shared screens to see that their service was targeted for getting cafes and restaurants more online visibility. We asked a few questions and received some answers that were a little less than stellar, but we were willing to consider the product. We thanked the rep and got to the point where we said, “thank you, but we’ll need a bit more time to think it through.” This was not the response she wanted and things quickly turned sour.
She proceeded to tell us that she’d lower the price for the weekend if we signed up immediately. We told her that the price wasn’t our only concern, it was just something that would require a bit more commitment. The rep began to tell us that we were missing the point of their product and what they were offering. With each refusal from our end, she came back with another pushy response. We tried to end the call amicably, but I know it wasn’t and it’s all quite a blur to me. What I do recall is that in the end a sale wasn’t made.
I couldn’t help but think about how this pitch was one of the worst ones I’ve ever endured and how it related to pitching for our clients. Some pitches are great, especially when you already have a relationship built with the media contact. Other times it starts off cold, but you’re going for it. Perseverance is definitely a necessity, as you’ll get push back, rejection, or no reply, but you continue on. One thing is for certain, overcoming objections is one thing, but being pushy to the point of rudeness is another. If I had recorded the conversation and thought about the condescending comments, extreme pushiness, and overall negativity that resulted, we would have a prime example of pitching gone wrong.
Overall, the key takeaway from that pitch and how it relates to PR pitching: you’re representing your company and yourself, so be sure to be respectful and maintain your composure, because the moment those start to waver, your audience will clearly see through it and have major doubts about you, your company, and what you’ve got to offer.