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Levine's Laws For Pitching With Panache

By Michael Levine
Posted Sunday, February 13, 2005

Excerpted from "Selling Goodness- The Guerrilla PR Guide To Promoting Your Charity, Nonprofit Organization, Or Fund Raising Event"

Whether you are making a pitch over the phone or in person, whether to a newspaper or magazine journalist or a reporter or producer in the electronic media, there are fundamental rules to follow. To some extent, they coincide with universal rules that apply to all human relations-courtesy, honesty, respect, integrity-but some of them are relatively unique to media relations, such as the advantage of having a topic that grabs by the collar and won't let go.

Here are my ten commandments for pitching the media:

1) Underlying everything should be the five F's: You must be fast, fair, factual, frank, and friendly. These words spell credibility, a currency worth its weight in platinum.

2) Never be boring. Never.

3) Know the media you contact. Watch, listen, read.

4) Know your subject thouroughly.

5) Don't just take yes for an answer. Follow up. Follow through.

6) Always keep your temper in check and your composure cool.

7) Don't be intimidated in designing your pitch. You have to make the first move, or no move will be made. The media won't come to you.

8) Turn any nervousness to your advantage by emphasizing your genuineness, the fact that you aren't a slick, insincere salesperson.

9) Make yourself understood. Do not use jargon and technical language. You won't be making yourself seem less intelligent by doing so. Quite the contrary. Some of the most brilliant people I know speak with disarming simplicity.

10) Be prepared for a dialog once you've made your pitch. A simple "yes" or "no" is less likely than getting a series of follow-up questions from the journalist. This is an opportunity for you to expand on your case and build rapport with the person you're pitching to.

And the eleventh commandment: Keep a healthy, reasonable perspective. This isn't nuclear weaponry negotiation. Keep cool and have fun.

About the Author
Michael Levine is the founder of the prominent public relations firm Levine Communications Office, based in Los Angeles. He is the author of Guerrilla PR, 7 Life Lessons from Noah�s Ark: How to Survive a Flood in Your Own Life.
GuerrillaPR.net is a resource for people that want to get famous in the media, without going broke. (http://GuerrillaPR.net)