Thursday, April 8, 2010

Salesmanship In PR / From Media Post

PR person: Hi there, my name is Julie from Acme PR. We haven't spoken before but I'd like to sell you a press release.
Journalist: Thanks, but I'm not interested. I have thousands already.
PR person: Um, what about a pitch then?
Journalist: I've had too many mediocre ones. I'll pass on that.
PR person: Okay, how about a story idea that's the best thing since spray-cheeze-in-a-can.
Journalist: I wrote about that last week.
PR person: Oh. What if I offered you the world's most knowledgeable expert who could talk to [insert latest "trending" topic here]? And some Ginzu knives?
Journalist: Look, I'm really busy and on deadline. (Click.)

So I was kidding about the knives, but that is still not the way to a make a successful sales pitch. Ever.

In any business, what can (and usually does) lead to a successful sale is understanding a customer's wants and needs and fulfilling them, not haphazardly throwing out stuff until something sticks. As a PR professional, my most important customer is always a member of the media.

That is my bread-and-butter customer, my daily staple on whom I rely for everything else to fall into place. Without those core customers, I have little to offer my other customers. And if I don't qualify or assess the integrity of my "leads," review churn and recency rates of my lists, or close the deal with these customers on a regular basis, I might soon find myself out of a job.

While the above terms may seem more at home at a database marketing company than a PR firm, they are in fact part of every sales cycle and a successful selling strategy. In any industry, understanding a customer's psyche is a critical element. Know your customer's pain or pleasure points, and you'll be far more likely to succeed in selling them a product or service.

This is what every successful business does and for those in PR, it should be no different. We are, after all, in the business of selling. Maybe not tangible items, but we are selling -- an idea, a message, a story, an expert.

Knowing how to sell can make you more valuable...

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