If there is one thing that PR pros need to be good at accepting, it’s rejection. You sent the perfect pitch and made sure you did your homework, contacted the journalist using their preferred method, and explained they WHY behind the importance of your pitch to a journalist’s audience. But, the journalist still was not interested, and that’s okay. Even if you think your pitch is great there are a number of reasons why it could have been ignored. You might feel defeated, but consider these three reasons why a journalist would say no, and take action for next time.
Your story may have been interesting, but it didn’t need media attention right away. Even the most exciting stories can be overshadowed by current events simply because the more timely pieces will take priority in the news cycle. The best way to avoid this is to consider submitting a news angle that demonstrates the urgency of your story, or explain how your story is relative to a breaking news piece – also known as newsjacking.
Sometimes the outlet or journalist you researched isn’t the MOST relevant person you should be contacting. They could have switched beats recently or cover a more specific aspect of the story you’re pitching. For example, a journalist who covers AI may be more specifically focused on machine learning in the workplace, making your pitch irrelevant to him or her at that moment.
A word of caution, sending the pitch to another outlet or journalist does not simply mean you should copy and paste the pitch either. Be sure to personalize each message to match the specific interests of the journalist’s audience. Another way to effectively fight irrelevancy is to submit your pitch through OnePitch. Our team reviews every pitch manually, and provides immediate recommendations/best practices, to ensure you reach the MOST ideal media contacts.
Not compelling enough
A compelling story is one that an editor would snap up because it provides an immediate benefit to a target audience. To craft a compelling story, be sure to concisely explain how your story will impact the particular reader with concrete evidence to reference. Some journalists may even take the time to provide you with direct feedback on how to improve your pitch for next time. Not all journalists do this (and none of them have to), but when they do, it should be taken as a serious opportunity to improve your messaging and build stronger relationships. Sal Rodriguez, reporter for Reuters, also has some advice for receiving a “no” response:
pr person: *send a pitch that isn’t a fit*
me: *decides to be nice and formally say no for a change*
pr: *hits me with 21 questions on why not?*
me: * :/ :/ :/*
also me: *:$ well at least now I have something to tweet to all the pr ppl who claim a simple no is all they’d like*
Actions to Avoid
With so many options for turning rejection into a positive experience, it is also important to note the key behaviors that can ruin a valuable media relationship:
- Send an angry reply – This will likely end up as an embarrassing screenshot on Twitter
- Incessantly follow up – 45% of journalists said they often or always read pitches which means that you often don’t need to ask “If they got your email”.
- Burn bridges, cut ties
- Give up entirely
According to PR expert, Michelle Garrett, “You shouldn’t give up on figuring out how to get the story out there. While you may not be able to make headway with that particular journalist, you can always try another reporter or another outlet. Or even turn to self-publishing”. The important thing is to continue to fine tune your timing and messaging to prove the value of your news.