5 responses to a reporter’s rejection

It’s no time for wailing and gnashing of teeth; just find out what else you can offer to stay on his or her radar screen.


When you pitch a story to a reporter and the reporter isn’t interested, it’s easy to become dejected and embarrassed, and conclude that your publicity campaign has come to a screeching halt.

That would be a big mistake.

Pick yourself up. Brush yourself off. And move on.

That’s what I told an author this week when I presented a webinar for the Independent Book Publishers Association on “17 Story Ideas Authors and Publishers Can Pitch Tomorrow for Publicity.”

At the end of my presentation, she asked, “How do you handle rejection?” Here are five tips for doing just that:

1. Don’t take it personally.

The reporter who isn’t interested in your story idea probably doesn’t think you’re a bad person. It could be that the idea simply isn’t a good fit, or maybe he’s covering for somebody who is out sick and he’s too busy right now. Pitch it to someone else whose audience needs to hear what you’re offering.

2. Ask, “May I help with any other stories you’re researching or writing?”

Sometimes journalists and bloggers want to cover a certain topic, but they don’t have time to do the research, and the idea ends up on the back burner permanently. This happens to me occasionally. If a journalist knows you could be a valuable source for his next article, he’ll want to stay in touch.

3. Ask, “Is there any other way I can help you?”

Let’s say you’re pitching an idea to a blogger, and she isn’t interested because she wrote something very similar to it last week. Ask her whether she needs your help with anything else. She might have an idea for a guest blog post she’d like you to write, but you’ll never know unless you ask.

4. Offer yourself as a source.

Invite her to call on you if she needs sources, background, commentary, story ideas, or anything else in your area of expertise. Chances are pretty good she’ll add you to her database of sources.

5. Ask if you can submit photos, video, or other materials after an event.

If you let journalists know about an event you’re hosting, but they don’t cover it, consider offering them photos, video, an op-ed, tips, a letter to the editor, or any other material afterward. Local TV stations, newspapers and other media often welcome things like for their websites. Remember, if it’s online, it might stay there forever.

Two things you should never do

After pitching, don’t ask, “Are you on any of the social media sites?” If you’ve done your homework , you should already know the answer. If you know a reporter is onTwitter or Facebook, you can ask whether they’d like you to pitch ideas there, or do it privately.

Also, never try to change a journalist’s mind about a story idea. They know their audience and what the media outlet already has covered. You don’t.

Those are my ideas. What are your best tips for handling rejection in a PR campaign?

Joan Stewart is a publicity expert, speaker, trainer, and consultant. She writes The Publicity Hound’s Blog, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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Topics: PR

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