How long do you think you have to catch someone’s attention during a phone pitch?

I make a lot of phone calls to media; quite often to people who don’t know me. Honestly, I think I have less than 30 seconds to make an impression. It doesn’t matter if you’re contacting media or making cold calls to prospects. The challenge is the same. That is: how to be persuasive as well as brief. Or is it: how to be brief as well as persuasive? In fact it’s: how to be as persuasive as possible in the least amount of time.

It seems a shame but it’s a fact. People don’t have much time for chit chat before you get to the pitch and they don’t have time to wait while you get to the point. Think about how many times you’ve gone over your elevator speech? Try and treat your phone pitches to media the same way.

This is also a challenge when emailing media. How do we catch and hold their attention? Because I want recipients to click on my email, I turn my subject line into a catchy headline. Surprisingly, journalists tell me they receive emails with the subject line “Media Release Attached” or even with the subject line left blank! Just as an article, news report or blog catches your attention with its headline, use the email subject line to sell your idea.

And keep it short. 99% of my email headlines are six words or less. Next time you’re drafting an email, challenge yourself to create an irresistible subject line that will lead everybody to click. What would your irresistible subject line be?

When drafting your email message or phone script, be clear with yourself on what your message is. Respect the recipient’s time and get to the point. If you find yourself explaining ideas early in your phone or email pitch, it probably needs more work. Stick to bold, assertive statements. Explaining too much at this early stage can give an impression of uncertainty and you need to sound stronger than that. I believe explaining belongs in the media release or later on when the journalist has questions for you.

Abbreviate. + i dnt mean lke yr textng (sic). Challenge yourself to be more efficient with language by using powerful words and efficient sentences. I can write or speak using long-winded sentences that takes you all the way around the garden or I can walk you directly to the rose bush. For this purpose, we’re going straight for the roses.

But we’d still like the path to be scenic. So if writing is not your forte (or even if it is) have a word storm before you begin. Spend ten minutes writing every word you can think of that will help you describe and sell this idea. Get excited and have fun. Even make up words and phrases to get your creative juices flowing. Now you have your own thesaurus to use for the pitch writing!

The more you enjoy what you’ve written, the more your recipients will engage with you and your ideas. Be your own barometer of interest. Would this pitch really catch your attention? Are you getting someone excited or just listing things?

Take time with your words and get them working hard for you.