9 ways to get out of a pitching rut

Virtually every PR pro has been there: Lots of lines in the water, and nothing’s biting. Despair not. There are simple steps you can take to get back on track.

You have a fantastic and unique story idea, you have done your homework, and you have a select few reporters who write about the very topic you are pitching.

Yet they are not biting.

Before you end up doubting yourself, feeling downright rejected, and letting your client down, what are some ways to get out of your rut?

1. Take a hard and close look: Can you shorten it and add a visual asset? Can you lead with a trend instead of the product news? Is there a higher-level message that comes in at the third sentence instead of the first?

2. Turn to a friend: Talking to a colleague (present or former) when we are in the deepest of pitching ruts helps immensely. Fresh eyes can detect red flags or suggest tweaks.

3. Talk to the client: Often we are too proud or worried to admit we are not getting anywhere with a pitch, but sometimes coming clean and suggesting some ideas that you and the client can collaborate on can work magic. Make sure you have a few possible solutions before talking to the client.

4. Pick up the phone: Before emailing your pitch, call the reporter. Having a conversation first can alert the reporter to your pitch, and you won’t annoy him or her with a follow-up call. If your believe strongly in your story idea, you should be confident enough to have a call with the reporter.

5. Don’t be a stalker: If you have called and they aren’t interested, move on.

6. Take a walk: A quick change of atmosphere can refresh your thinking. Get moving, and see if it inspires any new thinking.

7. Find a new friend: There are always fresh targets (as long as they are relevant), and there will be someone who is a perfect fit for your story idea. Don’t give up.

8. Ask them out: If you have a good relationship with a reporter and they have turned this particular story down, ask them to meet in person and talk about what topics interest them.

9. Don’t beat yourself up: It is important to keep your perspective and maintain your self-esteem. Sometimes the best pitching results come when we feel the most tested.

Elizabeth Yekhtikian is a vice president of media strategy at InkHouse. Prior to InkHouse, Elizabeth worked at Blanc and Otus for eleven years as a media trainer and account director. A version of this article first appeared on the InkHouse blog.

Topics: PR


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