Yesterday former Web editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings, Mike Green, and I co-facilitated a 4-hour media training workshop. Only the workshop lasted 5 hours because we had such a fantastic group of participants and we did not allot enough time.
In the next few days, I plan to post what we reviewed in the workshop and some of the lessons learned. I also plan to add photos and a brief video, so click back here if how to get attention from the press is a subject that interests you.
The first subject we talked about is an elevator speech.
You have 20-30 seconds in an elevator with someone you’ve never met before. He’s nicely dressed. He could be a reporter, TV producer, or possible funder (if you work for a nonprofit, for example). How do you get his attention in that little time?
The answer is the elevator speech: a short, snappy, impressive, interesting snippet about who you are or what you do.
The idea isn’t to pack in as much information as possible but to grab the person’s interest so he’ll want your business card or hold the door open to ask you a question. If he asks a question indicating further interest, you’ve done something right.
Mike had everyone write first drafts of their elevator speeches on index cards. One side only. The lines on the card are exactly the amount of time you have to give it.
Some guidelines about this “speech” that the group came up with after reading and critiquing the speeches:
1) Do not use clichés or tired language
2) Make it catchy and interesting
3) Make it clear and understandable
4) Do not use your company’s jargon or mission statement, instead tell the listener something familiar that he or she can immediately relate to
Here’s a hypothetical example. Instead of saying, “I am the education and outreach director for an organization that has 20 different funders and works to study bird population viability in Oregon by hosting school children from around the state” (this speech loses the listener in the first few words and by the time you’ve gotten to anything interesting, the doors of the elevator have closed), you could say, “I work for an organization that gets children outside into nature. You’ve heard of nature deficit disorder? We fight that by connecting school kids with real scientists to teach the kids about songbirds.”
“So when do you use an elevator speech?” one participant wanted to know.
I don’t know about you but I don’t find myself in elevators very often (there aren’t many high rises in Ashland and I usually take the stairs) and when I do I’m usually too shy to talk to the person standing next to me beyond a cursory, “Which floor?”
But I do often find myself having to explain my work, my business, or one of my books to someone. And even more often I find myself talking to an editor or a producer or someone whose attention I really need to grab.
If you cold call someone from the media, you have about 30 seconds to make your elevator speech (be it about your company, your idea for a show/article/radio segment). The speech will change depending on what you’re explaining and who you’re talking to but this is a tremendously useful skill to have.