I can address a packed conference hall, sing in front of hundreds of people and handle myself with confidence in most social situations. So people are sometimes surprised to hear I’m an introvert.
But while I love being around people, I find them exhausting. I enjoy parties, but usually want to leave long before midnight. I love concerts and the theatre but feel overwhelmed by crowds. And while I have loads of friends, I’d much rather see people one-to-one, or in small groups.
While teaching people how to sell stories into the national media might seem like an odd choice of career for me, I believe I have a lot to offer. In fact I’d go as far as to say us introverts have unique qualities that increase our chances of PR success.
So if you hate calling journalists or would rather cut off your own nose than go to a networking do, these PR tips are just for you:
Play to your strengths
As an introvert, you’re more likely to be sensitive to others’ needs and interested in what makes people tick. You’re probably also perceptive, empathetic and a good listener. This makes you ideally placed to understand what journalists are looking for and develop stories that are a perfect fit for their audience - which is what good PR is all about.
When you approach PR from a place of service (rather than self-interest) you’re more likely to develop ideas that interest journalists. So use your natural intuitiveness and empathy to understand what kind of content journalists on your target publications/programmes are looking for (and what they’re not).
Study their publications/programmes – ideally over a number of weeks or months – so you can get an understanding of what kinds of topics they cover, how and why. The more you can get under the skin of a publication/programme - and the journalist or editor behind it - the better chance you’ll have of success.
Want more pitching tips? Read six mind hacks that will help you get more press coverage.
Make connections online
Many introverts (myself included) love networking online. So if you hate face-to-face networking, do yourself a favour and stay at home. Most journalists are now on Twitter and other social media platforms and are happy to interact with you there.
If you let your natural sensitivity guide you (rather than simply bombarding journalists with pitches and press releases) you can build long-term relationships that will help you get press coverage.
To find out more, read: how to find + network with journalists on Twitter without being a sleazy stalker.
Remember also that many journalists use social media to look for ideas, so the more content you share on your blog - or on platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, GooglePlus and Slideshare - the more likely journalists are to find you. An up-to-date Linked page with examples of your work (including video and audio) is also a good idea.
And if you hate calling journalists, don’t do it.
Most journalists I know are so inundated, they rarely answer their phones. So a well-crafted email pitch, with a compelling subject header can be just as effective - if not more so - than a phone call.
If you do have to call (if your idea is particularly timely, for example), remember it’s all in the idea. It’s only when you pitch story ideas you don’t believe in (which usually happens when you’re just after an ego massage) that you feel like a sleazy salesperson. When you pitch story ideas that come from the heart - and offer something of value to the world - you’ll feel like you’re having a conversation, not a sales call.
When you’re on the phone to a journalist - or in a face-to-face meeting - make the most of your listening skills. If a journalist says they don’t want to run your story, ask them if they have time to explain why - then use the information to make your next pitch even better.
And never hang up - or leave a meeting with a journalist - without asking ‘is there anything else I can help you with at the moment?’ Even if you can’t help with a specific request, hearing them talk about what they are looking for in a story can be invaluable.
Get to the heart of the matter
Introverts tend to think before they speak, which means they’re good at getting to the heart of a matter. Make the most of your natural ability by crafting compelling email subject headers and first lines of press releases that will sell your stories to journalists (taking the time to do this will also help you when you have to speak to journalists on the phone).
And if you’re looking for some writing inspiration you might like how to write exciting copy about boring things and 11 signs you’re a good writer (word nerds will love #11).