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When it comes to pitching, brevity is the soul of wit

By Linda Forrest

Where the tire hits the tarmac in public relations is when it comes time to pitch a story. All of the materials have been written, the stage is set, spokespeople are available, and the news release has been sent. It’s our time to shine.

There’s a reason that news releases clock in at about 750 words – there is a lot to say about the news item that we’re putting out. We’re adamant that hyperbole doesn’t make it into our clients’ releases, but even when we trim away the fat, there is a lot of ground to cover.

Regardless, we have but a few words to grab our target audience’s attention, whether in an email or in a follow-up phone call. Hence, my reference to Shakespeare in the title of this post. We make it or break it in just a few seconds – can we distill the key message of the story in under 10 seconds on the phone? What few words can we lead with in an email to increase our chances of a positive reply? Has the headline included enough detail to communicate the crux of the story? We work hard to ensure that this is the case because in today’s news dense world, our release is just one of hundreds likely to cross that reporter or editor’s desk on any given day; our phone call is just one of the dozens that they’ll field amid pressing deadlines and breaking news. While we are strong believers that every story has an inherent news value, the fact of the matter is that unless we can quickly and effectively communicate the story, regardless of the channel, we are not doing the best by our clients.

Is brevity similarly appreciated when it comes to blog posts? Today, I’ll have to hope so as I’ve got to get back to pitching.

Get your sales engine turbo charged on June 13

By Leo Valiquette

Anyone savvy with the local tech scene and the areas of focus by yours truly during my time at the OBJ will know all about that made-in-Ottawa problem with developing a sales culture among our companies. Well, somebody’s finally doing something about it.

Eliot Burdett and the team at Peak Sales Recruiting have teamed up with a number of other like-minded individuals to create a not-for-profit organization called the Sales Leadership Initiative (SLI).

SLI’s mission is simple: ferret out from among the estimated 6,000 sales people who live and work in Ottawa the shining stars, the high achievers, the trailblazers who continually set and raise the bar. But this isn’t about showering praise and recognition, it’s about picking the brains of these people for the wise insights that can help others up their own game.

“We are interested in learning from the best practices in technology sales, whether close to home or further afield,” is SLI’s official line. “Our goals are (1) to increase and develop the pool of sales talent, and (2) raise the profile of Ottawa as a center of sale excellence.”

SLI is kicking things off with a launch event on June 13 featuring best-selling author and award-winning motivational speaker Jeffrey Gitomer (pictured) to help sales professionals “turbo charge their sales engines.” It’s a morning event at Ben Franklin Place. Click here to learn more.

In a town dominated by a bureaucractic mindset and a horde of engineers turned C-level executives, we definitely need an initiative like this to push the sales side of a business. Now let’s just hope those most in need can acknowledge their shortcomings and take advantage of what SLI has to offer.

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