Who do you think should make the call?

I have heard a few arguments recently for and against who should make that all important sell-in call to the media. Should it be the PR manager, director or executive?

The arguments for managers/directors

  1. They are more knowledgeable about the industry and tend to know more about their clients.
  2. Journalists tend to prefer being called by more senior team members
  3. They have experience of making these types of calls before
  4. They are more likely to have good relationships with the journalists
  5. Some junior staff members might feel uncomfortable making calls
  6. A junior team member might not have all the answers for the journalist
  7. Senior team members usually know how to record the calls and report properly

The arguments for executives

  1. They need to learn the art of selling in.
  2. They tend to have more time on their hands than the managers/directors
  3. It is cheaper for the company to use more junior team members
  4. It can make them feel motivated and included in the running of an account or business
  5. They can see the immediate results of media relations
  6. They can build good relationships with journalists

I can see both sides of the argument but I feel it is often down to the account and the quality of the briefing given to a more junior member of the team. Personally, I hate it when a junior team member has been briefed badly and sent to the phones shaking with fear – this is certainly not the way and how do you expect them to sell the story if they aren’t comfortable?

If you can have your director or manager making the calls then that is often the best solution but if you brief the executive fully and run through some effective role plays it can almost be just as effective.

I would be interested to hear the thoughts of others…..

3 comments on “Who do you think should make the call?
  1. Pitching to a journalist should be the easiest thing in the world – ensure that you’re briefed in, recheck that you have news and then start with ‘Are you on deadline’.
    It’s always going to be scary the first few times, but if junior staffers are given the chance to build relationships with journalists then the fear disappears.
    That said, I’m still scared.

  2. That’s because you’re a pussy-cat Jed.
    Although I do agree with you’re point about how quickly the feat disappears. I’ll never forgot my first sell-in; the birthday of Goonhilly’s Arthur… to a museum mag I think. I was that nervous, I spoke so fast the poor journalist came back with a classic… “Young man, I appreciate you may be in a hurry, but please try that again at a speed a 65yr old lady with poor hearing could understand!”. One week later the account manager came over and showed my first press cutting – I was ecstatic – my friends didn’t share my joy at the pub that night.
    Fair play, selling in is about knowing your story and knowing it is definitely news worthy to the media you’re pitching to, but for many account execs, I think it’s just emotionally handling rude journalistic social skills. Don’t let them get you down!

  3. I’m late to this debate, but here goes:
    1. They are more knowledgeable about the industry and tend to know more about their clients.
    Agreed and that’s the crux of the arguement. It’s not just about exec/manager/director, it is about knowing as much about the client as they do. Don’t make the call unless you understand the subject really well and can answer the questions.
    2. Journalists tend to prefer being called by more senior team members
    I don’t think they do. They prefer not to be called, or to be called by someone who can add value and knows lots about the subject. That’s usually a senior person.
    3. They have experience of making these types of calls before
    Yes, but that’s related to your training/briefing issues below.
    4. They are more likely to have good relationships with the journalists
    Relationships shouldn’t matter. It’s the story that counts.
    5. Some junior staff members might feel uncomfortable making calls
    Tough. Not a reason not to do it. And besides you should only be making the call if you are confident that it is a story that should be of interest to that particular journalist/media. That makes the call easier.
    6. A junior team member might not have all the answers for the journalist
    And if they don’t they shouldn’t make the call.
    7. Senior team members usually know how to record the calls and report properly
    Just a training/briefing issue again.
    1. They need to learn the art of selling in.
    Agreed. And they should do it, if they understand enough about the client.
    2. They tend to have more time on their hands than the managers/directors
    Not sure, everyone has the same amount of time, it’s just how it is prioritised and if you how important a task you consider this to be.
    3. It is cheaper for the company to use more junior team members
    Not always. If it doesn’t work then it is wasted time/money.
    4. It can make them feel motivated and included in the running of an account or business
    5. They can see the immediate results of media relations
    6. They can build good relationships with journalists
    Agree with all those ones. The crux is making sure that whoever does the call knows the client/industry/issue inside out. You have to live and breathe your client.

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