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10 Tips for Leaving Effective Voice Mail Messages for the Media

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Today working with the media often includes leaving voice mail messages for your contacts. The following are 10 tips to help make your messages more effective.

Tip #1: Always go for the close!

Tip #2: Never ramble. Make your pitch in 30 seconds or less!

Tip #3: Practice leaving yourself a voice mail. Cut out all of the “ummms” as you practice. If you get bored listening to yourself then you know you’re in trouble. Practice your 30-second pitch until you can say it naturally and conversationally with enthusiasm and joy in your voice.

Tip #4: Always leave your phone number twice–once at the beginning and again at the end of the voice mail. Speak at a fast pace when leaving your message but slow down and speak clearly when leaving the contact information.

Tip #5: Lead with your strengths and focus on the benefits to the contact’s audience. Pick one or two benefits that listeners would be able to use immediately to make their lives better. This will not be your only chance to pitch to that media contact. Believe me, more voice mails will follow.

Tip #6: With the first voice mail, always say you will fax or e-mail information related to your subject matter. That way, the media contact will have something in their hands with your phone number on it, which makes it easier for them to contact you.

Tip #7: Never leave more than one voice mail per day. I usually like to keep the follow-up process to once every two to three days for radio, four to five days for TV, and weekly for print.

Tip #8: Keep calling to try to actually speak to the person. Ask the receptionist when the contact person will be available. E-mail the contact to say that you would like to call at a specified time. Then set your clock and call. And be ready with your 30-second pitch.

Tip #9: When following up on your fax or e-mail, never simply ask, “Did you get my fax [or my e-mail]?” Always say, “I’m just following up on my e-mail [or fax] about… and go into a few exciting points about your topic. This refreshes their memory plus allows you to get another pitch in.

Tip #10: Never leave the same voice mail twice. Always change your “message” to include another great point about why they would want you.

Your voice mail is an audition for the interview. You must capture the attention of the producer within the first 10 seconds or else your message will be deleted. Voice and tonality are key factors. If you sound monotone and boring, you will not be heard no matter what you’re saying. Be excited and raise and lower the tonality of your voice, essentially mesmerizing the listener. If your voice mail is filled with enthusiasm, credentials, and knowledge, the media contact will like it–and you.


Annie Jennings, President of Annie Jennings PR, offers a free tape of tips on voice mails. E-mail her at Annie@AnnieJenningsPR.com and put “FREE Voice Mail” in the subject line along with your address.

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