30 Mar Pitching the President: Why PR Pros Should Reach for the Stars
By Sam Wallace
“Let’s just reach for the stars. All he can do is say no.”
That’s what Gary Groth told himself before he emailed Barack Obama. Mr. Groth, a comic book publisher, was compiling an anthology of the Peanuts comic strip, and looking for someone to pen the foreword. He didn’t expect a response from the President, but figured it was worth a shot.
To his surprise, Obama said yes. Groth suddenly found himself assigning a deadline to the President of the United States.
This anecdote could make anyone smile. But if you’ve been at LaunchSquad long enough, the story likely feels very familiar. Reaching for the stars is part of daily life here. In fact, Groth’s simple philosophy governs a great deal of the work we do.
It’s easy to avoid contacting your “reach” targets, fearing that they’ll reject or ignore you. That feeling of rejection is not easy to stomach, especially at first.
That’s because most of us are schooled as perfectionists – conditioned to avoid failure. In college, we prepared for tests by striving to get every question right. Most of us carry this mentality into our professional lives. I worked on legal contracts before coming to LaunchSquad, where even a single word change can have huge consequences. But PR is different. Yes, attention to detail is crucial. But so is taking risks, aiming high, and being comfortable with the knowledge that rejection is always a strong possibility.
That’s why PR can be simultaneously refreshing and intimidating. Think about it this way: Getting 15 percent of the questions wrong on your test is usually a ‘B’. But for many clients, having 15 percent of pitches answered is a pretty great track record. This is what sets PR apart from other professions. You quickly learn a special kind of fearlessness, that many professionals may never master. LaunchSquadders are comfortable with failure. In fact, we embrace it. After all, the worst that can happen is someone says “no”. And when that does happen, you learn something.
When I first started, the idea of cold calling a stranger, asking for time out of his busy day, and trying to explain a company or story was terrifying to me. Now I love the phone. I want to call. I still get that nervousness in the pit of my stomach – every time, in fact – but it propels me.
That’s because I know the potential gain is greater than the risk. Sometimes you send that perfect pitch, or make the phone call that you’re sure won’t work, and lo and behold an email pops up in your inbox: “Sure, I’d love to hear more about your company. It sounds really interesting.” Suddenly, your client is sitting down with a publication they can’t believe is paying attention to them. The result of that meeting is the kind of article that perfectly highlights why their story is amazing, and why it deserves to be put on a huge stage.
This can happen because we work with fascinating companies. We understand their stories, and believe in them. And we treat rejection as a lesson—we take that feedback and learn from it. PR teaches you to push past limits and embrace the possibility of “no.”And with that skill, maybe one day you could be setting a deadline for the President of the United States.
Image C/O: shutterstock.com/pic