You’ve got 30 seconds…What to say when you get it!

While Andy Warhol said everyone will have 15 minutes of fame, YOU  have less than 30 seconds. Journalists are busy, and when they answer the phone to a DIY PR person,  be prepared with your pitch.

You’ve researched appropriate media outlets, created niche contact lists and sent out your press release. Now it’s time to pick up the phone and dial their number.

But what do you say when they answer? While you no doubt love, are fascinated by, and are passionate about your new computer software, jewelry store or self-help book and could spend hours talking about it, consider this. Journalists will only be interested in the big picture in the first instance and are quick at deciding what to pay attention to and what to ignore.

The answer is an elevator pitch – which is your 30 seconds of their precious time. The point is not to go into every detail of your story. Instead, make sure the journalist (or producer) understands what you are talking about and what’s in it for them.

Here are PR Guru’s top tips on your elevator pitch:

Ask the journalist if this is a good time to talk

If it isn’t, get them to suggest an alternative time, but don’t ask them to return your call. If you get the thumbs up, proceed.

Identify who you are, why you are calling and engage them

Clearly state your name and why you are calling. (Keep in mind this is a great opportunity to let them know you’re familiar with their publication and where your story fits.) For example: Hello, it’s Samantha Smith calling on behalf of Sassy Shoes. I saw your piece on springs must have accessory: cork wedges. Have you seen our new studio 54 inspired summer sandal line designed by Sarah Saban?

Be concise

Remember you have 30 seconds: don’t go into too much detail. Explain your new sandals in a sentence or two and why they are different. If it’s a service, explain the problem that your service overcomes.

Be clear

Don’t use any jargon. If you are a computer software developer refrain from tech talk – your concept must be understood by your grandparents, best friend or children.


Address the specific interests and concerns of the journalist’s audience. Why will their readers care?

Start a conversation

Rather than focusing on closing the deal, set the hook to start a conversation with the journalist. Gauge if they are interested and if they are, you can talk further about your news.

If not, thank them for their time and politely end the conversation.

Make sure you keep a log of who you have contacted and their responses. This way you have a record and you can go back to them at a later date.

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