I’ve been training for the past two years or so with fitness guru and boxer extraordinaire, Eric Daniels (Note: I highly recommend Eric. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org).
In our many, many boxing sessions, Eric repeatedly has me focus on what he calls T.A.P.S., an acronym that stands for:
In contemplating his recommendation, it suddenly dawned on me that Eric’s acronym works equally well for an aspiring media relations professional (and, yes, Virginia, all the blurred lines notwithstanding, clients still pay BIG bucks for BIG placements by good old publicists).
So, here’s how every media pro (young, old or no longer living) should apply the TAPS acronym to her strategy:
- Technique. I’m guessing the average publicist who disdains e-mail, and actually calls a reporter (gasp!) has about 30 seconds to make her pitch. So, technique is critical. Ask the reporter if he has 30 seconds, frame up the pitch in a problem-solution way and suggest your client is uniquely qualified to provide tips, analysis or the name of a hot, new restaurant. Any of those three might buy you another 30-seconds with which to plead your case.
- Accuracy. Too many Millennial publicists rely solely on e-mail blasts to pitch stories to the media. That results is several outcomes:
1.) Pissing off any, and all, reporters.
2.) Demonstrating your laziness to your boss.
3.) Ensuring your client’s message will never see the light of day.
Before engaging, take a few minutes to read what a reporter has written and what her passions are. If applicable, link your client’s product or service to the journalist’s beat and it’s just quite possible your accuracy will pay off in an interview.
3.) Power. Once you’ve taken the time to master technique and accuracy, you can bang out a left hook and pitch your story to a Wall Street Journal reporter or CNN producer. Note: these are the crème de la crème, so do NOT test steps one and two on a power player or you may find yourself (and your firm) forever blacklisted from the journalist’s Rolodex. And, that’s killed more than one PR career.
4.) Speed. Now that you know how to frame a pitch, and to whom the story you’ll be pitching should be pitched, you can dazzle friends, co-workers and the local fruit stand guy with your speed. Great publicists can score tens, if not scores, of interviews in a single day AFTER they’ve mastered the TAPS tips.
In summation, make sure you wrap your hands thoroughly before slipping on the gloves and remember to duck. Every now and then, Eric forgets and he WILL nail the unsuspecting pugilist. The same holds true for that Associated Press reporter you just had hang up on you. He might forget about you OR, gulp, he may tell his peers to avoid any future calls or e-mails from Little Johnny Jones (that’s you).
And, then the PR industry will be playing a real-world version of TAPS for your career.