Part 2 of 4: Becoming a PR Expert – Crafting the Perfect Pitch

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 Me:  Erin, I am sure you have heard quite a few pitches throughout your career.  What are a few things that people can do to pitch effectively?

Erin:  Let me take you back to my TV producing days.  I’m at my desk, just having finished a live 1 hour show with my co-workers cramming for tomorrow’s show when we do it all over again.

The phone rings.  I don’t really want to answer but the thought of checking voice mail later will be just another thing on my to do list.  It’s a PR person, asking me to chat.  Inside I’m screaming “NO WAY JOSE – I HAVE A SHOW TO PUT ON”…but my mother taught me better manners than that so I say “Okay, but I have just a few minutes, sorry”.  At that, this person launches into this “pitch”.  Now at this point it can go great for them – or – well, they will need to call back another day, with another story suggestion for me. 

How did this particular person do?  Well, if I said great, I wouldn’t be teaching anyone anything so I’m going to say “not so great”.  Here’s why:  they were nervous, and I get that.  But their pitch sounded weak and shaky cause their voice was.  He also told me things I had already known – in fact, I had just produced a segment on this very topic last week – which showed me he doesn’t watch my show.   His spokesperson (an industry expert) wasn’t really qualified to speak on the subject matter and worse yet – hadn’t ever been on national television.

I shared my thoughts with this person and luckily they were well received.  This PR person called me back the next week with a new spokesperson and complete rework of the pitch.   Within a month the fairy tale ending of the story was that I DID book his guest on the show.

Second chances with the media are difficult to come by…Here are a few tips on how to craft the perfect pitch the FIRST time around:

  1. Know your Information
  2. Tell the media something they haven’t heard before
  3. Get the right person on the phone
  4. Be familiar with the media outlet
  5. Make your pitch short and sweet (All stuff no fluff)
  6. Facts and figures
  7. Quick fixes
  8. Timely vs. evergreen
  9. Credentials
  10. A place to find more information

Part 1 of 4: Becoming a PR Expert – Get to Know the Media

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Me:  Why is “the media” so important to us?

Erin:  The media is our most powerful means of communicating.  The media is changing everyday, so you have to keep up with who are the most effective mediums to help spread the word about you.

There are two things that people should be know:

  1. How will you deliver your message?  It’s crucial to know the difference between advertising, marketing and public relations.  All three can utilize the media to get your word out but how they do it is vastly different, so it’s really important to research the difference. 
  2. Local media vs. National media. Local media in New York City could be Good Day New York, Village Voice, or New York Post.  National media, would be the Today Show, Good Morning America, or The New York Times.  Many times, be mistakenly think The New York Times for example is a local media outlet – but it is read nationally so that is why it is not.

Social media is another big component of the media now, and that of course is Facebook, Twitter, your blogs, but it’s also ‘meet up ‘groups and websites and different ways to connect online with people. 

That of course is ever changing, and the job of a publicist is to adapt and change with that as well

Me:  With your experience over the last 18+ years, what are all the changes that you have seen?

Erin:  I would really date myself if I have shared all the changes I have seen!!  The most important thing to keep in mind is you need to develop a way to monitor all the change.  No brand left behind.  In your book you quote Jim Collins who said “Change is good as long as you are headed in the right direction!”..  That is so true with the media.  I encourage everyone to keep up with the changes or work with a team of people who can keep track of  the trends in garnering media exposure. 

Here are a few tips that I want to engrain in your brain.

  • Read magazines:  What types of articles and columns are the editors and reporters writing?
  • Listen to radio programs:  Do the shows that you want to be on even book guests?  If yes, are they talking straight chat?
  • Follow the blogs and other postings on websites that you’re a fan of.  Do they plug people, places, and things?
  • Watch the TV shows that you think you’d like to be on.  Imagine all the ways you could appear on that show. 
  • Talk to your friends or family.  They will know better than anybody what types of media they realistically see you appearing on.

Once you have figured out what you want to be apart of, look up names and numbers of these reporters and read their profiles.  A couple of databases that can give you access to this information are Cision, and Vocus.


Merger of The Hayzlett Group and The Idea Network!

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Today, Erin Saxton’s public relations firm, The Idea Network, and I announced the merger of our public relations teams into TallGrass Public Relations — effective today!


Her group brings stellar public relations experience, media contacts and relationships to our team.  They will expand our global approach, drive change and leverage rapid growth for our clients.  The merger enables us to grow every aspect of our clients’ business, achieving rapid growth and adding zeros to their bottom line.

Erin’s television credits include The View, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Barbara Walters Specials, and Good Morning America. 

She is a well-respected and connected force in the public relations industry and we are very excited to welcome her team!!



Interview with Tonya Hall, from the Tonya Hall Show and Founder and CEO of Barzhini

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Tonya Hall, founder and CEO of Barzhini, is a media journalist and host of the Tonya Hall Show. The Tonya Hall Show offers captivating interviews from industry movers and shakers that have mastered the power of Social Media. It’s the only one of its kind on the radio!

Jeff: What do you do in your own business to leverage the power of social media?

Tonya Hall: I use social media for Just about everything. For my show: I use social media to seek out and get to know future guests. I promote the show using social media. I take questions and engage my audience using social media.

J: How has social media changed the way you work?

TH: I started with my first client in 2006. My client was in the gaming industry and we couldn’t use traditional media to market. Social Media was in its infancy but I could see immediately that it was a game changer for marketing moving forward.

J: Because of social media, are there people you got in touch with to be on your show that you don’t think you would have before?

TH: Vint Cerf “Father of the Internet” and Chief Internet Evangelist Google among many.

J: What has been your favorite interview so far?

TH: You, Jeff are always a fun interview.  Your passion and smart business acumen always make a great show. I also love talking with the fresh startup entrepreneurs. Their excitement and belief that they are creating something that will make a difference is hard to deny. We have many show friends that engage my audience and frequently come back to keep us informed on including Evan Green CMO Grammy’s, Lance Ulanoff  Editor in Chief of Mashable, Jeff Pulver Founder Vonage and 140 Conference’s and Jeff Hayzlett Celebrity CMO Author and Sometimes Cowboy…

J: What do YOU do to “never compromise on creativity”?

TH: I try to bring the most interesting and diverse guest list to my listeners. Although I respect my guests I help my listeners get to know who my guests really are outside of social media and technology. We talk about the technology, business successes, case studies but also “the people behind the tech.” My guests are Mothers, Fathers, Snowboarders and Culinary Artists.   … Who we are and how we live is as much a part of social media as the platforms, marketing and algorithms we use. 


Look for MY interview with Tonya next Monday, Dec. 12!


Erin Saxton Named One of the Leading Women Entrepreneurs & Business Owners of 2011

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I am proud to tell all of you that my partner, and Senior Vice President of TallGrass Public Relations, my PR Firm, was named one of the leading women entrepreneurs & business owners of 2011!

Own It Ventures, a community-based business ecosystem created for women entrepreneurs and business owners, and New Jersey Monthly magazine will honor the Top 25 New Jersey Leading Women Entrepreneurs for 2011.   These New Jersey entrepreneurs have an estimated, combined impact of employing over 1000 people and generating revenues of over $165 million in New Jersey annually.

Saxton’s extensive experience on The View, Barbara Walter Specials and Good Morning America, gives her an insider’s status that enables her to identify the concepts that resonate for print editors, as well as television and radio producers, and gatekeepers of digital media.

Follow Erin on Twitter@ErinSaxton

Click here to read the full press release.


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